Overtourism and Culture in Europe: The Resident Gaze
Northrop Frye Centre (VC102)
91 Charles St West Toronto, ON M5S1K5
The NFC is pleased to invite you to a talk by Dr. Guillem Colom-Montero from the University of Glasgow.
About the talk...
In the last decade, the growing numbers of tourists has become a social, environmental and political issue in many destinations globally, leading to a ‘radical change in the perceptions of local people of tourism’ (Goodwin 2017: 1). Public discourses and cultural representations of tourism had historically tended to focus on the industry’s positive effects, but recent years have seen a dramatic shift to emphasise its detrimental impacts on residents and local communities, who have created grassroots movements to denounce the consequences of unsustainable tourism on their cities and regions. This deep transformation is encapsulated in the rapid popularisation of the term ‘overtourism’ from the mid-2010s onwards. Academics in sociology, anthropology and human geography have critically examined the socio-spatial configurations and forms of political contestation that are specific to overtourism, in general from a perspective which draws upon the notion of the ‘tourist gaze’ as theorised by John Urry (Colomb and Novy 2017; Díaz-Parra and Jover 2020; Mihalic 2020; Milano 2018; Milano et al 2019; Papathanassis 2018; Séraphin et al 2020). In this lecture, by contrast, I will extend the theoretical framework of the ‘gaze’ by arguing for the emergence of a ‘resident gaze’ in Europe associated to the turn to the resident at the core of the new historical moment of overtourism. As I will discuss, a distinct resident gaze has been produced through the literary, cultural, artistic and discursive representations of overtourism by authors, artists and grassroots movements in overcrowded destinations. I will then analyze the main narratives and imaginaries at the core of the resident gaze through a focus on cultural and grassroots production from Spain, Portugal, England, Scotland and Italy. Ultimately, I will argue that the concept of the ‘resident gaze’ allows for a better understanding of the ordinary, everyday experience of residents in overtouristified destinations and, in turn, of the key features defining of overtourism.
About the speaker...
Dr Guillem Colom-Montero is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Glasgow’s School of Modern Languages and Cultures and co-director of the research group ‘Discourses of Sustainability’ at the College of Arts & Humanities. His research focuses on contemporary Catalan literature and culture, the construction of identity in the Catalan-speaking lands within the wider Spanish context, and the interrelations between tourism, culture and local communities in Europe. Through a focus on the interactions between cultural production, collective and grassroots demands for community self-determination, and forms of socio-political independence, Guillem’s research seeks to engage with global debates of our time: political authority and popular empowerment, multilingualism and cultural identity, nationalisms and the representation of the Other, the impacts of leisure mobilities on community well-being and climate emergency. Guillem is the author of the monograph Quim Monzó and Contemporary Catalan Culture: Cultural Normalization, Postmodernism and National Politics (Legenda, 2021) and has published extensively on Catalan Studies in English and Catalan. His current research project focuses on the discourses and cultural representations of unsustainable tourism by resident communities, authors and artists in Spain, and he has recently extended his work to study cultural depictions of tourism in Scotland, England, Portugal and Italy. For this project, he has published two peer-reviewed outputs and has two forthcoming book chapters in 2024. Guillem regularly publishes articles disseminating his research to non-academic audiences in printed and online media in English, Catalan and Spanish, in outlets such as El País, elDiario.es, Diari Ara, Núvol and Brave New Europe. Finally, Guillem is currently working on a book analyzing cultural responses to overtourism in the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, tentatively entitled ‘Overtourism and Culture in Mallorca’.