chapter  7
13 Pages

From tourist to person: the value of intimacy in touristic Cuba

WithValerio Simoni

To contrast a tourist with a person may seem rather striking to the reader. After all, are not all tourists also persons? As other scholars of tourism have shown, it is rather common for the term ‘tourist’ to be ‘imbued in contemporary understandings with a culturally

derogative and negative connotation’ (McCabe, 2005, p. 85) and to be ‘used as a derisive label’ (Brown, 1996, p. 38). At least since MacCannell’s groundbreaking publication of The Tourist (1976), there has been much recognition of the ambivalence and paradoxes inherent in the possibility of being someone – a tourist – that seeks authenticity in travel but is simultaneously aware that ‘authenticity is only achievable outside the realm of the tourist role’ (Olsen, 2002, p. 160). Hom Cary’s reflection on the ‘tourist moment’ addresses a similar tension in the ‘interpellation’ and ‘collective subjectivity of the tourist’ (2004, p. 62). Her focus is on the serendipity of ‘tourist moments’ in which the tourists’ search for authenticity is temporarily fulfilled (2004, p. 66). The tourist moment is an instance of simultaneous interpellation and dissolution of ‘the tourist as subject’ (p. 69); ‘a liminal moment in which the “tourist has ceased to be a tourist” (Ryan, 1991, p. 35)’ (p. 64). In touristic encounters in Cuba, the enactment of intimacy enabled a similar dissolution of the tourist role, bringing to the fore other forms of subjectivity.