Travel as a capitalist, colonial dream of freedom

Liked CAN I LEARN TO RESIST THE REWARDS OF PARTICIPATION? by Cailey Rizzo (Philosophy For Party Girls)

…[T]ravel becomes the one place we can imagine freedom. We wander different cities and fantasize about how different we would be if we lived there. Our priorities would finally be set right. We’d find the group of people with whom we belong. We would take siestas! Travel is intoxicating because it’s the closest we can get to our imagination in real life.

The show is always shorter than we imagined it would be, the Mona Lisa is always smaller. Tourism is never the adventure we tell ourselves it will be.

According to Graeber and Wengrow, in many pre-colonized Indigenous communities, travel was seen as a form of mutual aid. You were obligated to welcome nomads into your home with the knowledge that if you set off on the road one day, you too would be welcomed anywhere. I keep thinking about this. What would travel look like if it wasn’t linked to capital?

Today, our adventures are hemmed in by what we can afford.


Via Alicia Kennedy’s current series on travel and food, adapted from a course she’s teaching – On Gloss: Can travel magazines tell the truth of a place?

What glossy depictions do is provide routes to “escape”—but… when does the human desire to escape mundanity run into a responsibility to other people, the people who call the “escape” home?

This has something in common with the notion of “imperialist nostalgia” articulated by Renato Rosaldo in 1989: “agents of colonialism…often display nostalgia for the colonized culture as it was ‘traditionally’ (that is, when they first encountered it).” The savvy tourist wants to encounter food sovereignty in an “authentic” manner on their trip, without asking why food sovereignty is so out of grasp in the first place.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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