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Tourism, Magic and Modernity

Tourism, Magic and Modernity: Cultivating the Human Garden

David Picard
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 206
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  • Book Info
    Tourism, Magic and Modernity
    Book Description:

    Drawing from extended fieldwork in La Reunion, in the Indian Ocean, the author suggests an innovative re-reading of different concepts of magic that emerge in the global cultural economics of tourism. Following the making and unmaking of the tropical island tourism destination of La Reunion, he demonstrates how destinations are transformed into magical pleasure gardens in which human life is cultivated for tourist consumption. Like a gardener would cultivate flowers, local development policy, nature conservation, and museum initiatives dramatise local social life so as to evoke modernist paradigms of time, beauty and nature. Islanders who live in this 'human garden' are thus placed in the ambivalent role of 'human flowers', embodying ideas of authenticity and biblical innocence, but also of history and social life in perpetual creolisation.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-202-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiii)
    Nelson Graburn

    This is a remarkable volume, which pushes the limits of the ethnography of tourists and tourism. In part, this is the result of Picard’s research methods, especially his long-term study of tourists and tourism, and of the sociopolitical scaffolding of the industry in Réunion. He used to good advantage his multi-year, almost continuous, residence in La Réunion where he studied tourism while engaged in a doctoral programme at the university there. Thus he was on the island not just as a researcher, but also as a student and as a resident engaged with other residents.

    Picard employed the research strategy...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiv-xvi)
  5. Introduction. Penguins in the Paris Underground
    (pp. 1-12)

    Paris, France, March 2006. An early morning in an underground station. Odours of soap, perfume, cleaning products and old sweat were hanging in the air. The platform was filled with commuters in dark overcoats and greyish winter outfits. I had sat down in a plastic chair fixed to the wall and stared at a billboard on the opposite side, above the rails. A man was playing golf on top of a shoreline flooded in warm sunlight. There was a text that explained, in French, that ‘there is an island where the sun remains faithful in every season’. It was an...


    • Chapter 1 Tourism and Magic
      (pp. 15-32)

      Tears were running down Ernest’s cheek. He murmured: ‘They would have let us die without allowing us to see all these treasures, this splendid nature.’ After a brief pause he added, furiously, in a now louder, tear-stricken voice: ‘We should have done what the Romanians did with Ceausescu.’ His face was all red. He was short of breath and sweating. He looked at me without saying a word, then returned his gaze to the volcanic plain. He took two photographs and slowly went back to the bus. It was around half past eight. The morning sun was shining in a...

    • Chapter 2 Creole Beautiful
      (pp. 33-47)

      Orom made us halt in front of a camellia tree. He was wearing his tour-guide uniform, a straw hat, khaki shorts, a white T-shirt, heavy hiking boots and a black mountaineering backpack. The group of tourists formed a half circle around him, waiting to see what would happen. He started telling a story about a woman who disliked the odour of flowers. She would not use perfume and the only flowers cultivated in her garden were camellias. Why only camellias? He asked the people surrounding him. There was a moment of silence. The tourists guessed at different reasons. They were...

    • Chapter 3 Cultivating Society as a Human Garden
      (pp. 48-68)

      Crouzet Richard¹ was too young, too inexperienced; he did not have the appearance of an Alexandre Delarge, the eloquence and long hair of a Parisian intellectual. He did not have the aura of a Raphael Folio, the white hair and the authority of the colonial noble, or the nerve of a Jean-Ives Loufox (pseudonym), the confidence of the local entrepreneur to maintain a public face while arranging profitable deals with his clientele in hidden backrooms. The people in the village I had become friends with over the previous months had widely agreed that Crouzet Richard only got his job because...


    • Chapter 4 Hospitality and Love
      (pp. 71-85)

      After leaving the motorway, the yellow coach from Saint-Denis slowed down and stopped besides the road. Adamsky saw Eve-Marie waiting. He waved through the window. She recognised him and made a welcome gesture with her right arm. She smiled. Adamsky and his two friends got off and went over to meet her. They kissed in greeting, and then she led them along the road into a residential quarter. They passed through lush garden plots with small brightly painted houses built of metal-sheet and wood facing the street. They were talking about their trip. Eve-Marie picked up a small rock from...

    • Chapter 5 Bougainvilleas at the Riverside
      (pp. 86-96)

      The group of young men were standing in front of a metal shipping container. We shook hands and said hello. One looked at his watch and said it was nine. The others also looked at their watches and confirmed. ‘We have to start,’ one of them, Simoni,¹ said. He opened the doors of the container, went inside and came out with large bush knives (sabres) and a roll of large plastic bags which he passed around. The group formed teams of two. Each of them took a knife and a plastic bag. We started to walk down the path and...

    • Chapter 6 Poachers in the Coral Garden
      (pp. 97-116)

      A day at the end of January 1999. During the morning rush hour, a group of approximately a hundred people had started a sit-in on the main road of La Réunion’s west coast. Long traffic jams immediately formed on both sides, hindering commuters on their way to work and parents taking their children to school. The protesters were mostly fishermen from the nearby villages of La Saline-les-bains and La Saline-les-hauts. In the early hours of the same day, some of the fishermen had been intercepted by the nature brigade, a police force attached to the island’s Regional Environmental Agency (DIREN),...


    • Chapter 7 History as an Aesthetics of Everyday Life
      (pp. 119-133)

      It was an early evening in December 1999. I met Mrs Lula¹ under a tree in front of the community hall. The sun was about to go down over the lagoon, shimmering in golden flashes through the pine trees. I was saying hello. I had called her some days earlier, after the girl from Saint-Paul City Council had given me her number, in order to explain my research interests in the activities of the Hermitage Village Committee. Mrs Lula invited me to participate in a meeting they were going to have to prepare the celebrations to commemorate the abolition of...

    • Chapter 8 Towards a Global Gardening State
      (pp. 134-152)

      A faintly perceptible breeze emanated from the small fountain in the pool. We were sitting on a bench under a bamboo tree, in the ‘Zen’ part of theJardin d’Eden, a landscape garden just south of Saint-Gilles-les-bains on La Réunion’s west coast. Though it was already the end of May – the beginning of the austral winter — temperatures remained well above 25 degrees Celsius. Marie-Françoise Lanfant¹ was to return to Paris the following day, and after a week of driving her around the different sites of my fieldwork, I wanted to wrap up the conversations we had had. We...

  9. Endnotes
    (pp. 153-170)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 171-186)
  11. Index
    (pp. 187-190)