Rodanthi Tzanelli's Weblog

In this weblog I post updates on my teaching, research and publications, as well as other relevant academic activities.

On Camerawork: Slum and Dark Tourism

Camera work and audio recording thrive on symbolic colouring: training the eye to see the nuance and the audience to look at perspective, requires, after all, the employment of various tools and forms of sensory mediation. Yet, no audio-vision is neutral: as it produces meaning in its makers and recipients, it is bound to generate plural interpretations while also hinging on hegemonic understandings of the original broadcast message. Any broadcast sign can be used in ways that its original maker would not have necessarily endorsed. Academics know this game only too well: their work enters so many different scholarly and policy channels that its initial intentions and agenda eventually become diluted in a murky pot of utilitarian discourse. What is eventually served is as likely to have a very disagreeable flavour as it is to inspire globally renowned ‘Master Chefs’ or intellectual visionaries.

My focus on ‘edible’ (art) work is a recognisable trend in academic elaborations of tourism mobilities: eating as consumption of the other is at the core of being human equipped with inquisitive capacities and desires to know more. What in not as well explored in the field is the nexus of mediated art style during one’s exploratory journeys – hence my reference to ‘colouring’ – and the cultural politics of racialization of landscapes and their inhabitants. This observation applies both to ordinary tourists, academic ethnographers touring other cultures equipped with video cameras and professional filmmakers en route to producing audio-visual narratives of other cultures. It is not that we seem to avoid explorations of art styles that become enmeshed into tourist mobilities as racialised vehicles. The essential link that some of the finest theorists in the field (Seaton 1999; Dann 2001; Tribe 200) provide to European artistic cultures of postcolonial travel often recedes in a historical background. Rather it is that sometimes we cannot differentiate between our very own interpretative recipes and their cultural origins on the one hand, and the original ingredients and cooking on the other.