Place, Labor, and (Im) mobilities: Tourism andBiopolitics

Lapointe, D., Coulter, M., (2020). Place, Labor, and (Im) mobilities: Tourism andBiopolitics. Tourism, Culture and Communication.


Contemporary tourism is omnipresent in development discourses and policies, functioning as a “worldmaking” force in which tourism activities provide a representation and storyline that influence the tourist and their behavior, thus becoming a form of social production. Justifying the inclusion of biopolitics as a response to the questions raised by the worldmaking tenet, this article aims to set the concept of biopolitics as the articulation between dominant structures and agency. As contemporary social life and the reproduction of society are integrated into the scope of market capitalism, and the state exerts its role as protector of the “free” market, biopolitics functions through the internalization of the rules of conduct by individuals, as well as through the economic integration of previously noneconomic spheres. Conducting a systematic literature review to expose the presence of the biopolitical lens in tourism research reveals the relevance of pursuing critical and unconventional research strategies. A diverse yet limited corpus of texts has developed in the context of the persistence and pervasiveness of both biopolitics and tourism in complex and uneven global social, political, and spatiotemporal systems and networks, highlighting new theoretical constellations rooted primarily in Foucauldian biopolitics. This essay uncovers a powerful entanglement of nonlinear and multiscalar tourism elements, and calls for ambitiously undertaking tourism research to address tourism discourses, structures, and practices in place and society.