2011 - 2012: Wageningen Geography Lectures

Laser Tag and Other Rural Diversions: the Village as China's Urban Playground

29 Sept 2011  Tim Oakes (UC Boulder)  

“The only way we can fight poverty is to turn peasants into urbanites.”  Urbanization has become a key strategy for addressing persistent rural poverty in China.  While local governments have been encouraging urban migration and development projects aimed at urbanizing the countryside, Chinese intellectuals and a growing urban middle-class aesthetic of rural nostalgia have combined to turn much of China’s increasingly empty villages into heritage projects.  This talk explores the contradictions and unintended outcomes of China’s ‘antiquarian urge’ to salvage the countryside.  These contradictions revolve around the tension between heritage as a project of fossilization, and heritage as a project of economic development, a tension given laconic illustration in the recent trend of turning over preserved villages to laser tag games for urban tourists.Typ hier uw vergelijking.

The Hitchiker's Guide to Modernity 

18 Oct 2011  Steve Flusty (York)

Tourism and the tourist are commonly taken for modern phenomena, the results of shrinking distances and expanding leisure time. These phenomena can be understood as giving rise in turn to vast and diffuse touristic landscapes bound together by particular tour itineraries and conveyances, anchored by tourist attractions and traps, and saturated by the effluvia from seemingly bottomless reservoirs of souvenirs. Such landscapes, along with their denizens, have also become popularly disparageable phenomena, motivating many travelers to painstakingly disidentify with tourists, their putative places and practices, enabling technologies and associated commodities. Embracing the concrete particularities of these landscapes by excavating their spatially and temporally specific significances, however, can reveal some very different stories about tourism, its places and its historical unfolding. By means of recounting a recent tourist itinerary of my own, this presentation will explore a selection of sites and souvenirs – from Amsterdam’s understatedly profuse canals to the grandiose monuments studding Tokyo’s transit infrastructure, from chocolates to figurines to the styling of facial hair. In so doing, tourism will be revealed as not just a modern phenomenon, but as a central player in the all-consuming emergence of the modern and, not at all incidentally, in the production, elaboration and maintenance of imperialism along the way.

The Neoliberalisation of Nature in Africa

24 Nov 2011  Bram Büscher (Erasmus)

Nature in Africa has long had a special place in the global imagination. Equally, this nature and the imagination surrounding it have long been subject to uneven processes of commodification. Under global neoliberal restructuring since the 1980s, however, these processes seem to have intensified. The purpose of the presentation is to provide an overview of some of the contemporary ways in which Africa’s nature is being neoliberalised and to provide an indication of how this neoliberalisation is negotiated by African actors. I will argue that this negotiation is exceptionally difficult, as the neoliberalisation of Africa’s ‘natural resources’ goes hand in hand with the framing of those same resources as ‘inverted commons’: a special type of commons that belongs to the whole globe but for which only Africans pay the real price in terms of their conservation. I will illustrate the argument with special reference to the issue of tourism in the framework of nature conservation, and in particular how this worked out in the site I have done extensive ethnographic fieldwork in between 2005 and 2008, namely the Maloti-Drakensberg area between Lesotho and South Africa.

Tourism and climate change: advancing the issue of food and water

10 Jan 2012    Stefan Gössling (Lund)   

The interrelationships of tourism and climate change have been well researched with regard to transports and emissions of greenhouse gases. Far less attention has been paid to food and water, both of which have important links with climate change. The lecture will highlight the importance of these issues based on recent research. Recommendations are made to improve the food- and water-sustainability of tourism, considering economic, political and social dimensions of change.

Landscapes of illumination - festivals of light

15 Mar 2012  Tim Edensor (Manchester Metro)

Across the western world and beyond, numerous cities are investing in festivals and events organised around the innovative technologies of illumination.  This paper looks at the different ways in which light is used to re-enchant the nocturnal city and explores the tastes, emotions and affects that are produced.

Experiencing the Enchantment of Place and Mobility

19 Apr 2012    Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt (Roskilde)

"In many places, the experience economy of tourist performance present-in-place is seen as an attractive way to pursue. But the theoretical understanding of what it takes to perform tourist sites is still only emerging. This paper is in search of deeper and more critical understandings of first what it takes to make experiences, and second what are the triggering features of fascinating and fantastic experiences. Third, the paper wonders how it is that experience and mobility seems to depend on each other? How is it that travelling and tourism is associated with folding time and space so that memories of other times and space and multiple realities in wider ways intersect? Clearly these are questions not only about sheer physical sensing and movement – of (er)fahren – but about life and how to live up in experiencing – zu erleben.

The Changing Geographies of Foreign Aid and South-South Development Cooperation: contributions from gift theory

25 May 2012    Emma Mawdsley (Cambridge)   

This paper critically evaluates the ways in which Southern development actors, such as India and China, discursively construct the 'aid' element of South-South development cooperation. It draws upon gift theory, something that has previously been confined to analyses of western foreign aid. Four characteristic features of the symbolic regime of South-South development cooperation are identified: the assertion of a shared 'developing country' identity; expertise in appropriate development; rejection of hierarchical 'donor-recipient' relations; and an insistence on mutual opportunity. All of these set up the positive moral valence of reciprocity, something that stands in contrast to the hegemonic public construction (if not the reality), of western foreign aid as unreciprocated charity to the less fortunate. The paper then examines what this symbolic regime might seek to 'euphemise' or obscure in the realpolitik of South-South relations, including inattention to the contested sub-national politics of 'development', and the growing differences amongst the G77 nations. The paper is concerned with the ways in which Southern development actors represent a challenge to the dominant aid paradigm, transgressing dominant cultural categories and social hierarchies of who gives and who receives; but it refuses to take claims of South-South solidarity and mutual benefit at face value. It concludes with some brief reflections on the implications of the emerging visibility and power of the Southern development partners for critical 'development' geography.