Outsourcing the Nation-State: Localities of Expertise in Comparison

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:20
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Tim ROSENKRANZ, The New School for Social Research, USA
This comparative case study of national tourism marketing practices in India and the USA analyzes how the nation-state in global competition outsources itself into local, professional networks of expertise. This paper shows through the process of translating the nation-state into desirable commodity images for tourists, how localization in global tourism markets is based on competing claims to expertise. Today, professional destination marketing and branding have become central activities of the globally competing nation-state. This paper explores these efforts of the nation-state by focusing on the professional networks of destination marketing in two main sources of the global tourism economy: the USA and India. This research follows approaches that theorize globalization as connecting localities in a fluid yet particular relation. Accordingly, I apply the methodology of global ethnography that defines cases not as closed off, but as globally interconnected field-sites. Only the process of destination marketing itself delineates my field-sites (India, USA) conceptually and empirically as two distinct, comparable localities within the global tourist-scape. They are produced as such, because the National Tourist Offices (the official marketing agencies of the nation-state) divide the global field of potential tourists into separate regions of marketing, i.e. sources. Drawing on qualitative data collected through interviewing and participant observation, this paper focuses on the interactions between the National Tourist Offices (NTOs) and the local, professional actors who translate the nation-state into a tourist destination. I show how this destination circulates at the source through the hands of travel journalists, travel agents, and local marketers. This circulation embeds the NTOs in local fields of cooperation, but it also expands the process of image production beyond the nation-states’ organizational boundaries. I argue that this outsourcing process is based on professional claims to expertise and knowledge, which shift away from the nation-state towards the local source.