The conference aims to explore the links between tourism and fiction, and more precisely to consider tourism and tourists as fictions. It is part of a series of conferences organized since 2011 by researchers from the Universities of Geneva, Panthéon-Sorbonne and Berkeley to explore the links between tourism and the imaginary. The first four meetings had evoked how tourism mobilized imaginaries specific to destination countries, their landscapes, their cultures and their inhabitants. The fifth conference will focus on the imaginary that applies to tourists themselves.
We will examine how the various actors of tourism, as well as the places and practices of
tourism, appear in works of fiction. Literature, cinema, theater, song, advertising, etc., stage
tourist configurations, which are sometimes at the very heart of these fictions.
Fictional tourists include those invented by the inhabitants of the destination countries, the
actors of tourism, but also the tourists themselves. Stereotypes, fantasies and preconceived
ideas contribute to drawing up portraits of tourists who, although imaginary, are actors in the
tourism process. We will also ask the question of how researchers, particularly in tourism
studies, imagine tourism and tourists.
How is tourism represented? Do these representations have consequences on tourism practices?
We propose to analyze forms of tourism that proceed from the imaginary in the sense that they
involve tourists traveling in their minds, as armchair tourists. We are thinking of the very recent
forms of virtual tourism, but also of older devices which, through text (novels or travelogues),
maps, images or complex scenographic forms (panoramas), allow travel without actually going
to the destination. How does this imaginary tourism work? What are its connections with actual
Tourists Playing with Imagination
We intend to consider how, why and to what extent tourists can engage in fiction, playing
certain roles or characters (cosplay), telling stories, imagining situations, dressing up as a
native, getting into the skin of locals, taking on a role proposed by a place of visit or
accommodation (such as staying in hotel which is a former prison), etc. Tourists sometimes
have to pretend, and mobilize the tools and contents of fiction to achieve their experience, like
visitors to theme parks who emotionally embrace the heroes of their favorite cartoons. More
generally, tourists have to suspend their disbelief and engage in fiction whenever they are
confronted with staged authenticity. Thinking in terms of contents tourism engages one to pay
more attention to the creativity of tourists and to the content of the narrative worlds they refer
to (rather than on the media, as with film induced tourism, for example).
We welcome papers coming from social sciences, history, comparative literature, visual
studies, film studies, etc., but the purpose of the conference is to participate in tourism studies
by proposing new insights into tourism, tourists and the imaginary.
The registration fee will cover the opening reception and dinner, and lunches and between-
session coffee and snacks. The Registration fee for student presenters without full time employment will be 0€ and for academics and professionals it will be 200€. Some support
for accommodations or travel may be available for needy students.
Please send abstracts (approx. 500 words) and a one-page CV to Maria Gravari-Barbas
(firstname.lastname@example.org), Nelson Graburn (email@example.com) and Jean-
François Staszak (Jean-Francois.Staszak@unige.ch) by November 30th, 2023, in English or
French. We will notify contributors of acceptance by January 2024.
• Nelson Graburn, Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley
• Maria Gravari-Barbas, Tourism Studies (IREST, EIREST), Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
• Jean-François Staszak, Department of Geography, Geneva University.
Wednesday, June 19th, Reception, Opening Banquet, Plenary Address
Thursday, June 20th,Concurrent Sessions, morning and afternoon
Friday, June 21st, Concurrent Sessions, morning and afternoon
Evening: Closing Reception
Saturday, June 22nd, Post-conference excursion.