Gazing and Performing

Jonas Larsen, John Urry

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    The Tourist Gaze [Urry J, 1990 (Sage, London)] is one of the most discussed and cited tourism books (with about 4000 citations on Google scholar). Whilst wide ranging in scope, the book is known for the Foucault-inspired concept of the tourist gaze that brings out the fundamentally visual and image-saturated nature of tourism encounters. However, some recent literature has critiqued this notion of the ‘tourist gaze’ for reducing tourism to visual experiences—to sightseeing—and neglecting the other senses, bodily experiences, and ‘adventure’. The influential ‘performance turn’ within tourist studies suggests that the doings of tourism are physical or corporeal and not merely visual, and it is necessary to regard ‘performing’ rather than ‘gazing’ as the dominant tourist research paradigm. Yet we argue here that there are, in fact, many similarities between the paradigms of gaze and of performance. They should ‘dance together’ rather than stare at each other at a distance. In this paper we rethink the tourist gaze in the light of this performance turn and of a Goffmanian dramaturgical sociology by examining the embodied and multisensuous nature of gazing as well as the complex social relations and fluid power geometries comprising performances of gazing. The Foucault-inspired notion of the tourist gaze can be enlivened—made more bodily and theatrical—by incorporating Goffman and post-Goffman analyses and aspects of nonrepresentational theory.
    TidsskriftEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
    Udgave nummer6
    Sider (fra-til)1110 – 1125
    StatusUdgivet - 2011

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