Inspiring keynote by Monika Buscher and Sarah Becklake at The Values of Tourism conference on ‘Embodying Security, Solidarity, Freedom’

Monika Buscher and Sarah Becklake gave a keynote speech on ‘Embodying Security, Solidarity, Freedom’ at the Copenhagen Business School, at a Conference on The Values of Tourism (23rd Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research, October 1-4, 2014).

On the face of it, the ideas, experiences, and effects of disasters and tourism could not be further apart. However, disasters and tourism do not occupy different worlds. Disasters can, in a heartbeat, completely disrupt the tourist experience, devalue tourist locations or, as phenomena such as ‘dark tourism’ suggest, have the opposite effect, as even places of disaster can become sites of touristic pleasure (Pezzullo, 2010). But the connections between the two run deeper than their mutual (in)formation. As liminal journeys into the unknown, disasters and tourism both evoke heightened concern with bodily risk and insecurity and, thus, make way for extraordinary (dis)embodied securitization practices. While this is not new, technological innovations are facilitating new forms of securitization, many of which are not easily contained within conventionally conceived corporeal and spatio-temporal phenomenologies (Adey, 2009; Haldrup & Larsen, 2006; Molz, 2012). Furthermore, the informationalization of security in both contexts raises many problematic aspects often seen as involving a trade-off with values of privacy, freedom and justice. Through an examination of disaster and tourism insecurities, we explore how new technologically facilitated (dis)embodied securitization practices are achieved and experienced in moments of liminality, and highlight both their reflexive and subversive potential.

Creatively understood ‘vigilant visualities’ can involve a sense of touch (Amoore, 2007) and enable an embodiment of posthuman phenomenologies that can reclaim freedom, and enact relational ethics and a politics of justice (Boltanski, 1999; Sontag, 2002; Whatmore, 1997). Following this, by tracing examples ranging from the technologically facilitated (re)production of ‘safe bodies’ and ‘safe bubbles’ for tourist experience to the involvement of tourists in disaster response (Rossnagel & Junker, 2010; Schroeder, Pennington-Gray, Donohoe, & Kiousis, 2013; Sigala, 2011), we highlight the emergence of new ethical challenges and opportunities.

The presentation is available here:

Keywords: disaster mobilities, tourism mobilities, relational ethics, posthuman sociality