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Danger-zone tourism: Emotional performances in Jordan and Palestine

This thesis discusses danger-zone tourism in Jordan and Palestine. It explores emotional performances in tourist places of ongoing socio-political conflict. I bring together dark tourism, emotional, affectual and sensuous geographies as well as psychoanalytic theories on the death drive to examine danger-zone tourism as a form of tourism performance based on danger and conflict as enticing factors. Fieldwork was carried out in Jordan and Palestine during April 2009 and July-November 2010. Individual interviews, both face-to-face and online, small group interviews, non-commercial photographs, and written diaries are methods that have been employed for this research. A total of 79 participants were involved, out of which 25 are international tourists and 29 tour guides. The remainder 25 participants are other tourism industry representatives, such as tourism company owners and managers, taxi drivers, souvenir shop owners, as well as tourism governmental officials in Jordan and Palestine. I use a critical qualitative methodological approach to explore emotional performances of danger-zone tourists and local guides in areas of ongoing conflict. My discussion addresses three points to understand the ways in which danger-zone tourism is performed in Jordanian and Palestinian tourism spaces. First, I unravel the connections between tourism, danger and ongoing socio-political conflict so as to provide opportunities to foreground danger-zone tourists’ enticement to danger and conflict. I critique dominant tourism studies literature to argue that tourism and conflict are not mutually exclusive and tourists who travel to areas of political turmoil are fascinated with danger. Second, I critically examine emotional, affectual and sensuous geographies – that which is sensed, felt and performed – in Jordan and Palestine. It is maintained that affects, emotions and senses experienced in danger-zones disrupt some dominant dichotomies in tourism studies such as peace/war, safety/danger, fun/fear and life/death. Feeling fear, shock, anger and engaging haptically with tourist places and spaces provide a disruption of these binaries. Third, it is argued that danger-zone tourists can be understood beyond the existing labels of “morbid” and “ghoulish”. By accessing the death drive danger-zoners’ motivations and enticements to travel to dangerous places are rendered visible. I argue that by travelling to dangerous places some tourists seek to purge embodied memories and archaic traumas. This study offers a new way of theorising danger-zone tourism. Considering emotions, affects, senses and the death drive experienced and performed in an area of ongoing conflict encourages a more critical understanding of danger-zone tourism in particular and tourism studies in general.
Type of thesis
Buda, D. M. (2012). Danger-zone tourism: Emotional performances in Jordan and Palestine (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6085
University of Waikato
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