Plen1
Enchantment

Convenors:
Chair:
Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
Discussant:
Jonathan Skinner
Stream:
Plenaries
Location:
Henry Thomas Room
Start time:
10 April, 2007 at 14:30
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Papers by Tom Selwyn, Annika Rabo, and John Hutnyk.

Long abstract:

The tourist industry is fuelled by ideas, values, and symbolic structures the purposes of which, to use a term of considerable interest to anthropologists in other contexts (Pinney and Thomas, 2001) are to enchant: to attract, to shape imaginations, interpretations, and memories - and otherwise to enhance processes of cognitive and emotional transformations. Whilst tourist brochures and guide- books may not quite belong to the realm of the classical sorcerer, there are clearly magical elements present in tourist ‘ways of seeing’ and being. Mark Twain’s (1871) journeys to the Holy Land are well known for being steeped in his own romantic visions and preconceived notions of what the place should look and feel like. Generations of travellers, from those on the Grand Tour to more contemporary independent and mass tourists, are heirs to the tradition of enchanted experience that he, amongst others, developed. On a rather different level anthropological studies of hospitality suggest that hosts routinely work to enchant their guests. The contexts of hospitality may vary: from traditional marriage feasts held to reinforce the union of bride, groom and their two families (Kanafani, 1983) to contemporary reception parties given by operators and their representatives in resort hotels to promote in their tourist guests a sense of well being and a disposition to eat, drink, and spend (Andrews, 2007). In these and other cases hosts seek to enchant by, for example, deploying such party staples as good food, sweet perfumes, fashionable clothes, and music to evoke heightened senses amongst their guests of taste, smell, touch and sound. This points us back to the ritualistic nature of hospitality, as other aspects of tourism too, and reminds us of Hocart’s (1952) famous claim about the ‘divinity’ of guests. The aim of this plenary is to identify and describe the way that tourism as a whole is framed by enchantment and theoretically to contextualise this in relation to the late capitalist and ‘disenchanted’ (Bourdieu, 1972) world in which it operates.