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Political Tourism and its Texts

Political Tourism and its Texts

Series: Cultural Spaces
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Political Tourism and its Texts
    Book Description:

    The concept of political tourism is new to cultural and postcolonial studies. Nonetheless, it is a concept with major implications for scholarship.Political Tourism and Its Textslooks at the writings of political tourists, travellers who seek solidarity with international political struggles. With reference to the travel writing of, among others, Nancy Cunard, W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, Ernesto Che Guevara, and Salman Rushdie, Maureen Moynagh demonstrates the ways in which political tourism can be a means of exploring the formation of transnational affiliations and commitments.

    Moynagh's aims are threefold. First, she looks at how these tourists create a sense of belonging to political struggles not their own and express their personal and political solidarity, despite the complexity of such cross-cultural relationships. Second, Moynagh analyses how these authors position their readers in relation to political movements, inviting a sense of responsibility for the struggles for social justice. Finally, the author situates key twentieth-century imperial struggles in relation to contemporary postcolonial and cultural studies theories of 'new' cosmopolitanism.

    Drawing on sociological, postcolonial, poststructuralist, and feminist theories,Political Tourism and Its Textsis at once an insightful study of modern writers and the causes that inspired them, and a call to address, with political urgency, contemporary neo-imperialism and the politics of global inequality.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8881-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Political Tourism and Its Texts
    (pp. 3-32)

    This book is about the cultural practice of political tourism and about the textual representation of their political tours by late modern writers and intellectuals. The political tourist belongs to a particular category of traveller, one who seeks to participate in or manifest solidarity with a political struggle taking place ‘elsewhere’ in the world. Through their touring and their acts of solidarity, political tourists practise a kind of ‘world citizenship’ that is about imagining a different kind of belonging, a different kind of human relationship, and a different practice of the self than are typically afforded through exclusively national, ethnic,...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Cunard’s Lines: Political Touring and the Making of the Negro Anthology
    (pp. 33-74)

    During the making of theNegroanthology, a project meant to record ‘the struggles and achievements, the persecutions and the revolts against them, of the Negro peoples’(xxxi), Nancy Cunard travelled to Harlem and the Caribbean. I argue that the texts she produced around these struggles can be read as a kind of political tourism, not because her writing fits the category of travel literature, but because it exhibits the ambivalence¹ of the tourist’s gaze even as it claims partisanship in the causes it strives to represent. The angle afforded by the concept of political tourism makes it possible to re-map...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Revolutionary Drag in Auden and Isherwood’s Journey to a War
    (pp. 75-108)

    In the 1930s, when the Spanish Civil War was the prototypical staging ground for the identity of leftist intellectuals and artists seeking some vision of international revolutionary praxis, ‘Spain’ could serve as a synecdoche for revolutionary tourism in general. Thus Christopher Isherwood could retrospectively represent his and W.H. Auden’s decision to base their contracted travel book on China when the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937 as having to do with its revolutionary political significance, and with its status as an alternative to Spain. Auden’s remark ‘We’ll have a war all of our very own’ (289) seems to imply that...

  7. CHAPTER THREE ‘Speaking Bitterness’: Agnes Smedley in China
    (pp. 109-136)

    In her response to Martha Nussbaum’s essay ‘Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,’ Judith Butler offers a critical take on universalism that nonetheless does not reject the concept outright. She argues instead that ‘there are cultural conditions for its articulation that are not always the same, and that the term gains meaning for us precisely through these decidedly less than universal conditions’ (‘Universality in Culture’ 45–6). While neglecting the culturally and historically contingent articulations of universality leads to the sort of promotion of particularism in universalist guise that so many postcolonial critics have addressed, Butler proposes that we think of universality as...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR ‘Following in the Footsteps of Che’: Political Tourism as a Strategy for Entering and Leaving Modernity
    (pp. 137-176)

    In the introduction to his seminal studyThe Tourist, Dean MacCannell notes that ‘originally, [he] had planned to study tourism and revolution, which seemed to [him] to name the two poles of modern consciousness – a willingness to accept, even venerate, things as they are on the one hand, a desire to transform things on the other’ (3). In the end, he opted to present his work on tourism independently of his research on revolution, but in this chapter I would like to return to the link that he initially made between tourism and revolution. This is not to say that...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Postcolonial Migrant as Political Tourist: Salman Rushdie’s The Jaguar Smile
    (pp. 177-212)

    Mass migration, according to Arjun Appadurai, among others, is a prevailing characteristic of the era of globalization, and one of the key questions of this book concerns how to think about political tourism within this framework. How does a transnational imaginary informed by an awareness, if not necessarily direct experience, of the cross-border traffic of refugees, migrant labourers, aid workers, immigrants, peacekeepers, and asylum seekers either enable or foreclose upon the acts of international solidarity that impel political tourists across the globe? Few contemporary writers can be more associated with metaphors of migrancy, travel, and displacement than Salman Rushdie, yet...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Political Tourism as Transnational Feminist Practice: Margaret Randall, Rebecca Gordon, and Adrienne Rich
    (pp. 213-252)

    In characterizing transnational feminist practices in a recent essay, Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan argue that they ‘involve forms of alliance, subversion, and complicity within which asymmetries and inequalities can be critiqued,’ emphasizing that a feminism ‘free of asymmetrical power relations’ does not exist (par. 4). That political tourists of necessity negotiate asymmetries of power in their efforts at international solidarity is undeniable. That political tourists also strive, in most instances, to forge forms of alliance ‘within which asymmetries and inequalities can be critiqued’ has been evident in the cases that I have considered here, even where those efforts have...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 253-264)

    What does it mean to read these texts now? John Beverly argues that ‘testimonio’s moment ... has undoubtedly passed’ (‘Real Thing’ 281) and it would be easy to suggest that because the texts I have been discussing are bound to particular historical moments – early twentieth-century pan-Africanism, the Sino-Japanese War, the Cuban revolution, the Sandinista effort to transform Nicaraguan society during the course of the 1980s – their moments, too, have passed. Reading these texts today might easily translate into an exercise in nostalgia for brief utopian moments in the struggle against imperialism, neo-liberalism, and superpower politics – into a species of left...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 265-280)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 281-298)
  14. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 299-300)
  15. Index
    (pp. 301-315)