“Everything that needs to make the thing a whole” : aestheticization, exclusion and the political economy of Long Bay’s tourism landscape

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi

Abstract: Although a large volume of work has been conducted regarding tourism industries across the world, the dominant analysis in the geographies of tourism tends to draw upon post-modern discourse analysis and representational theories. This has resulted in calls to develop more materialist analyses of tourism landscapes. Using the case study of Long Bay, a small coastal settlement in Portland parish, Jamaica, this dissertation aims to do this by adopting a Marxist political economy approach to understand the social relations of production that characterise the landscape. Capitalist landscapes are defined by unequal social relations, namely between capitalists who own the means of production and labourers who depend on the sale of their labour to earn a living. Although the tourism industry differs from traditional productive industries insofar as much of the industry depends on the distribution of goods and services rather than the production of tangible commodities, the social relations of production and reproduction are transferable to tourism landscapes. Interviews with local labourers, business owners and government officials provided the key empirical data for analysis. The main results conclude that unequal land ownership in Long Bay is exacerbated by the tourism industry, resulting in the severe exploitation of labourers who are dependent on the industry’s seasonal, low-wage employment. Moreover, gendered divisions of labour persist in both the workplace and domestic sphere, with significant material consequences for women who disproportionately hold low-paid, “caring” positions and conduct the majority of domestic labour. The third key finding is that local labourers experience direct and indirect exclusions from the landscape due to a lack of material wealth or time as well as unequal land ownership, which affects not only who has access to the land but also who spaces are intended for – in this case, the tourists. Although the research is specific to Long Bay, it illustrates the usefulness of adopting a Marxist political economy framework for analysing tourism landscapes more broadly. In turn, this dissertation aims to be suggestive of alternative ways to produce the landscape which can be used in future tourism developments to create more inclusive, equal landscapes.

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