VIENNA CHAPTER: Kuenstlerhaus, Vienna
May 20th, 2005
2.15 – 6.00 pm (lectures part 1: The Other self)

Is to travel "to possess the world"? Tourism, Media, and (Post-) Modernity in Europe and India

Organized tourism, emerging in the early 19th century, in its combination of travel and sightseeing, has become an essentially visual activity of western subjects, theorized in terms of the negotiation of the conflict between (western, white, male) Self and (non-western, non-white, African and Asian) Other. In recent decades, however, organized tourism as a visual activity has spread out to non-western societies, particularly in Asia and South Asia. How is the western scopic regime affected by this shift, i.e. by the emergence of the former object of the tourist gaze as the gaze’s subject? Does non-western tourist practice challenge the regime of the tourist gaze, or does it merely follow along the same lines, albeit with a change of geographic direction? Taking India as its example, this contribution discusses tourism as spectacle in Bollywood song and dance numbers and argues that Indian tourist practice articulates a highly specific conflict of tradition and modernity, a conflict that has to be situated within the framework of what Geeta Kapur calls the "incomplete modernity" of contemporary Indian society. The contribution will further argue that such a conflict is not exclusive to non-western tourist practice. Rather, the conflict between Self and Other inherent in western tourist practice should be reread as an indication that western modernity is perhaps less complete than a critical concept such as „incomplete modernity“ implies.

Alexandra Schneider (Berlin) received her Ph.D. from the University of Zuerich Film Studies Department. Since 2002 she lectures at the Free University of Berlin. She has published in Visual Anthropology, Film History etc.

Respondent: Michael Zinganel (Vienna) is a theoretician of architecture, artist, curator based in Vienna.


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