I presented a paper on ‘The Tourism Worker and the Platform Economy’ at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Washington (DC, USA) on 4 April. The presentation was part of the session ‘Towards a Geographical Political Economy of Tourism’ organized by Patrick Brouder, Salvador Anton Clave and Jarkko Saarinen. The session brought together papers that take a pro-active approach to critical studies of tourism in a place-based context, including critical studies of tourism destination economies. My presentation reflected on the body as a political site and as a site of political intervention, empirically drawing on the Airbnb economy. I reflected on the increasing role of digital platforms in measuring and valuing the living labor of the tourist worker’s body in contemporary tourism.
Towards a Geographical Political Economy of Tourism: Critical, Relational, and Evolutionary Approaches to Place-based Development (II)
Under the broad umbrella of tourism studies there is a great section of research which has been lambasted for lacking a critical approach. This includes studies of the tourism economy, which are often regarded as being applied, industry-oriented, uncritical exercises that are mainly designed to describe the economy and track its most basic economic impacts. Within tourism geographies, however, there is a pro-active approach to critical studies of tourism in a place-based context, including critical studies of tourism destination economies. This session connects these studies, which are most often conceptually refined and empirically supported, and calls for a movement of tourism economic research towards a geographical political economy of tourism. Geographical political economy is an approach where ‘the spatialities of capitalism co-evolve with its economic processes and economic, political, cultural and biophysical processes are co-implicated with one another’ (Sheppard, 2010, p.319). Any geographical political economy of tourism should be fully cognizant of the uneven geographies of tourism development (Mosedale, 2015), and how destination development is a multiscalar and continuous process (or set of processes) co-evolving with any socio-economic, political, cultural and ecological processes at play in the destination region.