Special Issue "Neoliberal Cities: The Touristification Phenomenon under Analysis"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2019
The huge growth in international and domestic tourism exemplifies neoliberal politics, as it reflects the global deregulation of land, property, financial, and labour markets; yet, despite the fact that politics touches every aspect of tourism, there is very little work that has been done exploring the nature of this relationship. As a property-based sector, tourism depends upon financialisation to support large-scale investment in transport, accommodation, attractions, and in general urban facilities. In both poor and rich countries, it has developed through land grabs together with extensive liberalisation and privatisation, so that foreign capital may own assets, repatriate profits, uproot existing inhabitants, import labour, and employ it flexibly. At the same time, neoliberal politics has transformed social and political structures in order to create or extend spaces for urban tourism—spaces that are sometimes those colonised by the transnational elite. The process of touristification is particularly intense in the cities of advanced capitalism, especially in the post-crisis period of austerity, affirming tourism as a means of absorbing the huge quantities of capital thrown up by quantitative easing, much of which is directed towards property. Many ex-industrial cities that have taken to tourism have been subsequently opened to gentrification, which has become the ubiquitous solution to economic stagnation; yet, this hides a dark side in its reproduction of socio-spatial inequalities, particularly in the formation of the precariat.
The multi-faceted connection between neo-liberalism and consumerism has seen tourism become even more of a relational and fashion good, which provides status to its users. This is evident in the misleadingly termed “sharing economy”, which appears to be post-materialistic and outside of the mainstream tourism industry, with its emphasis on cosmopolitanism and on the social diversity of inner-city working-class historical quarters; yet, this rests upon online short-rental tourist accommodation platforms such as Airbnb, which have been co-opted by a rentier micro-capitalism, with the slogan “live like a local”. Its impacts are profoundly disruptive to host communities, as tourism-led gentrification distorts the local housing market and reduces the possibilities for citizens to gain the right to housing. It privatises some public spaces and degrades others, while contributing to the deterioration of the quality of urban life in many central districts.
We invite contributions that explore contemporary tourism in cities as part of the neoliberal project. This could include the following:
- Processes that construct spaces for urban tourism, such as gentrification, land grabs, urban regeneration, developments in the local and national state, the privatisation of public space, and the financialisation of land and property markets.
- Processes creating the conditions for urban tourism, such as the transformation of labour markets, the growth of the precariat, changes in democracy, austerity, the surfeit of capital for investment, the ever-growing patterns of hedonistic consumerism, and the rise of the experience economy.
- Types of urban tourism, such as cultural and heritage tourism, and the ways that history is deployed for the creation of marketing images.
- Conceptual issues arising from tourism in cities, such as the right to the city, the nature of citizenship, and changing patterns of class politics.
- Political reactions to touristification such as grassroots resistance and possibilities of state regulation.
- Flashpoints in tourism that throw light upon neoliberalism, such as over-tourism, infrastructure development, or state strategies such as the European City of Culture.
Dr. Luís Filipe Gonçalves Mendes
Manuscript Submission Information
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- Neoliberal cities
- urban tourism