2012-2013 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce

'Homo Nationalis' and 'Homo Turisticas'
Questioning the Imaginary Institution of
Costa Rican Society Following Its Tourist Turn

Linda Boukhris
PhD Student, Geography
University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne

Friday, March 1, 5:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley

Costa Rica has shaped its tourist destiny through a powerful tourist
imaginary, constituted by the representation of a peaceful state without
armed forces as well as the representation of wilderness. Costa Rica as a
political paradise and as an ecological paradise are the two main components
of a tourist imaginary that turned this small country of 51,100 km² and 4.6
million inhabitants into a tourist regional power with two million tourists
each year.

A genealogy of these two images reveals the deep relation between the tourist
imaginary and the national imaginary, between the processes of the tourist
development and the national construction. Indeed, the tourist imaginary
takes on the characteristics of the Costa Rican national ideology shaped by
the political and intellectual elites of the country, within the context of
the independence in the 19th century. Thus, this image of a political
paradise is not recent and the Costa Rican “difference” in regards to its
stability and exemplary nature has been based on the racial theory of its
white population, the discourse of whiteness to explain the democratic and
peaceful state. However, this invention of the Costa Rican “difference” did
not include the landscape dimension of the national space, nor the
environmental discourse -- the “green difference” -- that appears recently
in the national development and particularly following what we call the
tourist turn of the Costa Rican society, presenting the features of a “total
social fact”. Indeed, beyond the emergence of tourist places, the changes
within the Costa Rican society in search of a green identity (e.g.
environmental legislation, the legal qualification of space, new governance
of heritage) are profound and show the strength of this imaginary that
becomes act.

If this tourist imaginary is at the origin of the production of the tourist
places, we make the hypothesis that it also participates in the production of
the Costa Rican territorial identity, by producing territorial symbols that
forge the collective experience and through which a process of collective
national identification is performed. We would like to demonstrate that the
tourist imaginary is an instituting imaginary that produces territoriality
and shapes a certain image of the nation.

Speaker Bio:
Linda Boukhris is currently finishing her PhD dissertation in Geography at
the University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, under the direction of Maria
Gravari-Barbas. She is a visiting student researcher in the Geography
Department of the University of California, Berkeley (2012-2013) and has
been an affiliate of the TSWG since her original visit in 2011.

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