The Academic Practice of (re)Presenting Immobilised Hosts
The term host is ubiquitous to the school of tourism studies. Utilised to (re)present local populations found in the tourist destination, its roots can be traced in the seminal anthropological work of Valene Smith (1989) Hosts and Guests. The terms hosts and guests are contested and have been critiqued for creating binary opposites, when it is suggested that both roles are in fact far more fluid than first thought (Sherlock, 2001). However, the binary opposites of hosts and guests have been useful for tourism theorising, providing a language to name things. Yet, in naming lies the potential risk of the reification of stereotypes and ‘in Tourism Studies we need to confront out permanent complicity in structures of inequality, injustice and violence that we spend so much time trying to alleviate’ (Swain, 2009: 520). Focussing on the tourism academics’ role in (re)presenting research participants, literature published since 2010 is analysed to highlight an (implicit?) complicity in the immobilisation of the female host. There is a propensity for research on gender and tourism to (re)present women and men from the West as guests and women and men from the Rest as hosts. It is argued that working within this dominant framework can equate to an overlooking of many issues facing women and men globally, in doing so it paves the way for future research and opens dialogue for important conversations on gender and feminist research in the academic field of tourism.