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Lifestyle migration and residential tourism: new forms of mobility between tourism and migration        (D1)

Location GCG09/10
Date and Time 11th April, 2007 at 14:30


Karen O'Reilly (Loughborough University)
Christopher Thorpe (Aberdeen University)
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Short abstract

This panel connects tourism, travel and migration by examining affluence and lifestyle migrants. We explore causal links, motivations, and mobility experiences and frame these in the context of broader debates around nation and place. This can include reflections on the ethnography of mobility.

Long abstract

New, flexible forms of mobility that connect and blur the distinction between tourism and migration intimate profound methodological and conceptual issues for anthropology. Here we are thinking about, for examples, North Europeans (British, Swedish, Norwegian, German) moving South; French buying second homes in Morocco, US citizens retiring to Mexico, or even students on a gap year. Affluent migrants migrate, oscillate, circulate or tour between their home and host countries in search of something encapsulated in the notion of the rural idyll or signified in the distinction between tourism and travel. Some retain a home in more than one place, some work in one place and live in another; others simply move, while others still simply visit. Their motivations are often anti-urban or anti-modern. They illustrate new trends, each with its own unique set of historical precedents and objective conditions, but are they a continuum of old themes, of the Grand Tour, colonialism and empire, travel and escape? Is their migration best explained through their individual motivations or through the conceptual lens of globalisation, world systems, transnationalism and diaspora, or even liquid/fluid modernity? What are the impacts for geographical and border spaces, and for host and home communities?

We are seeking substantive papers that connect tourism, travel and migration, and that examine causal links, objective conditions, motivations, and/or mobility experiences and frame these in the context of broader debates around nation and place. We also welcome methodological reflections on the ethnography of mobility.

Propose a paper


'There's more to life': why the British migrate to rural France

Author(s): Michaela Benson 


In this paper I draw upon substantive material on British lifestyle migrants living in the Lot, a rural inland d├ępartement in the southwest of France. By their own admission, these migrants believe that they come 'from all walks of life'. They readily dissociate from some of their compatriots in the region, while aligning themselves with others. This has implications for understanding why they choose to migrate, and what they anticipate of life following migration. While their move to France can be explained in terms of the search for the rural idyll, anti-modern and anti-urban longings, and their eschatological cravings, the migrants themselves discuss these desires in a variety of ways and emphasize how they understand what constitutes a meaningful and authentic life. In my analysis, I contextualize their discussions in terms of the broader notion of authenticity. I explain the process of distinction the migrants use to differentiate themselves from tourists, their compatriots, and other migrants living in the Lot and I highlight the connection between distinction as a social process and the presentation of the 'authentic' in rural France.

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German second-home owners in rural Italy: An ethnography of a multilocal lifestyle between mobility and settledness

Author(s): Daniella Seidl 


This abstract is based on my ethnographic research "The temporary mediterranean "Lebenswelten" of German Second-Home Owners in Italy". I understand residential tourism as an example of the postmodern way of life influenced by tendencies of mobility- and multilocality in tourism. Moreover I want to show that residential tourism transforms historical and cultural patterns. Those developments into modern conditions and modifications shall be framed into the debate of "transnational spaces".

"Second-home" means to create a space imbued with possibilities which allow people to double up their lifestyle, being at home somewhere else. I propose to discuss the tension between mobility and settledness as an idea and a way of life. The old motive "anti-urban search for rural idylls" can be found in the motivations and practices of urban middle-class second-home owners in the 21st. Century. The splitting of the way of life into a place for work and representation, and into a place for leisure and privacy, is already manifested in the summerhouse and cityhouse conceptions of the 19th. Century .Tourism and mobility as a postmodern cultural practice transform historical and cultural habits into new frames and conditions.

New cultural transnational spaces emerge in rural Italy. Mental pictures of urban North-- and Middle-Europeans are manifested by creating those spaces. In this context "locality" significates a relational category and must be seen as a "structure of feeling". The temporary "Lebenswelten" (A. Sch├╝tz) of second-home owners depend on idealised conceptions of a mediterranean way of life, and are related to distant geographical and social spaces.

I want to pursue the questions: What means that for the relationship beetween host and home communities? How are mediterranean elements integrated, modificated, or negotiated by creating these "holiday spaces"? Does the local culture has any influence at all?

The multilocal lifestyle of second-home owners in rural Italy is a new touristic phenomenon oscillating between historical cultural patterns and transnational touristic expierences.

The romantic spectre haunting Britain: lifestyle migration to Italy and the return of the romantic spirit

Author(s): Christopher Thorpe 


Lifestyle migration is typically understood as an historically novel development, and to some degree it is. Notions of escape in order to pursue more 'authentic' and less 'self-conscious' modes of living are often understood and discussed as though part of a nascent socio-economic trend. History shows us that this is simply not the case. This paper is concerned to compare and describe modes of representing and appropriating Italy and the Italian lifestyle past and present as the means to escape. The cultural artefacts used in the comparison comprise select works of the Romantic poets Byron and Shelley, and a number of present-day lifestyle magazines centring on Italy and the Italian lifestyle. This paper will argue that the vision of Italy and the Italian way of life set-out and contained within these magazines demonstrates a marked degree of similarity between that of the ways in which the Romantic poets Byron and Shelley wrote about and imagined Italy at the time of writing between the period 1800 to 1820.

In addition to examining the work of these two romantic poets, I shall also examine the wider social and cultural conditions that informed and shaped their work. I shall do this in terms of a Bourdieusian field analysis. The final part of the paper will concern itself with trying to trace out and identify the social and cultural conditions that have led to the re-emergence of this distinctly romantic way of thinking about Italy and the Italian lifestlye as contained within the pages of these present day lifestyle magazines.

Living between India and the West: the community of Westerners in Varanasi

Author(s): Mari Korpela 


There is a community of Westerners in Varanasi, India. Those Westerners return to Varanasi year after year but none of them stay there permanently -in between they go to their home countries to earn money. The community is both transnational and local at the same time. The members come from all over the world and easily move between various nations. Yet, while in Varanasi, they live very intensively together and create a very local and concrete community. They clearly distinguish themselves from tourists and claim to have found an ideal lifestyle. They oppose the modern West and instead value the "authentic" life they have found in India. However, their lifestyle would not be possible without their ties to the affluent west.

In my paper, I discuss the contradictions between their highly individualistic lifestyle and the tight community they form in Varanasi. I illustrate in what kind of transnational field the local space of the community is constructed: instead of transnational, a more appropriate term to describe the lifestyle could be translocal. I also describe how those people themselves explain their motivations and the choices they have made. I argue that the phenomenon could be called lifestyle migration or residential tourism although those people do not seem fit into any categories; they are not tourists, migrants nor travelers, how to label them is indeed a tricky question.

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e-paper The rural idyll, residential tourism and the spirit of lifestyle migration

Author(s): Karen O'Reilly 


It is becoming increasingly evident that contemporary global perspectives on migration should again include affluent migrants, and not simply professional expatriates, students, intellectuals and football players. In the context of increased flows, and increasingly complex geographical mobility, the migration of elite groups is becoming increasingly prevalent and multifaceted. Of course, elite migrants remain a numerically small group but their mobility can have important impacts, especially in terms of a phenomenon this paper will describe as lifestyle migration, which links tourism, migration, counterurbanisation and the rural idyll. This paper defines and delimits what is meant by the term lifestyle migration and identifies the spirit, or driving force, motivating these mobilities and behaviours, before going on to outline the historical and material preconditions which made space for and enabled this current rendering of what is actually an old theme. Lifestyle migrants are relatively affluent individuals, moving, en masse, either part or full time, permanently or temporarily, to countries where the cost of living and/or the price of property is cheaper; places which, for various reasons, signify something loosely defined as quality of life.

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e-paper Tourism as a membrane

Author(s): Timothy Neal 


Out-migration from Britain by British nationals is attracting increasing academic and popular interest. One idea to emerge suggests that British identity tends to be deconstructed into its constituent parts (English, Scottish and Welsh) through the process of migration and that the break-up of Britishness results in essential underlying identities (re)emerging rather than forms of hybridity developing. This paper recognises that we are always already hybrid and thus these constituent parts are hybrid forms themselves.

The mobility patterns of migrant British populations are, particularly in the case of Europe, prefigured by tourist mobilities. Drawing on experience working in the European travel industry the author outlines a substantive example of the osmotic exchange between tourism, travel and migration through a focus on elite cultural tourism, in particular walking tours. Tourism is understood as a membrane with the constituent(s) discovering appropriate solutions and the elements of identity that 'work'. These tensions are maintained in migration yet an individual's account of themselves may obscure the soluble nature of identity, the progression of hybridity. It is proposed that a focus on the internal and external decoration and representation of domestic space can act metaphorically as a filter through which such hybridity may be drawn.

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