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Tourism, Global Culture and Transnational Diplomacy

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010

"I think many of our problems as a country would be solved if people had thick passports." -- Matt Damon, Condé Nast Traveler, 2009

Tourism is as much a political terrain as a cultural practice. It has been promoted as a route to economic development for poor nations and wielded as an instrument of political leverage between nations -- as the U.S. embargo against travel to Cuba or the recent easing of tourist-visa requirements between Russia and Brazil demonstrate. As a cultural practice, tourism has been imagined as a bridge between cultures and as a form of public diplomacy, with the tourist's passport emblematic of the complex relationship between politics and culture. Simultaneously a state document and a cultural object, it identifies its holder as both a national citizen and a cosmopolitan subject. People with thick passports are, presumably, open-minded, worldly and tolerant. ...

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