Tourists and settlers: Dorien Vanden Boer, Touristic Entanglements: Settler colonialism, world-making and the politics of tourism in Palestine, PhD dissertation, Ghent University, 2020


Abstract: This dissertation contributes to critical tourism studies by integrating a settler colonial perspective with the concepts of world-making, ordering and placemaking, and focusing specifically on the case of Palestine. While the colonial legacy of tourism has already been examined more widely, the specific implications of the settler colonial logic in tourism remain rather underexposed. A relational approach to settler colonialism sheds a different light on the relation between the production of space, knowledge, and power in tourism. By employing literature on ‘world making,’ Actor-Network Theory and ordering, I analyze how tourism produces spaces and in fact worlds that are entangled into ongoing political processes of colonization and contestation in Palestine. This dissertation is the result of qualitative fieldwork and archival research in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and Jordan, combined with a literature study. The case studies I explore range from Palestinian hiking movements to tourism infrastructure in Jerusalem, the development of a Peace Park on the Jordan River, as well as the historic development of tourism in Palestine and its relation to Zionism and settler colonization. The cases expose the complex entanglement of space, settler colonization and tourism as a messy process of co-constitution. The production and consumption of touristic spaces goes hand in hand with the making of affective relations, that reproduce colonial and decolonial ontologies. The research contributes to a critical understanding of how tourism and settler colonialism are intertwined in Palestine and also develops a notion of the subversive capacity of tourism as a way to both make sense and actually produce alternative, decolonial worlds.

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