SelfishTravel

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CALL OUT: Ethics and aestetics of travel

a selfish approach

Western white activists within the global justice movement are often accused to be „political tourists“, flying into local struggles self-servingly on the quest for excitement and distinctive experience. In fact the desire to travel and the creation of utopias often comes with climate threatening plane journeys, exposes power relations between the global west and the local rest and therefore seems to contradict its own benevolent agenda. Very similar to political activism, academic life – in its mainstream as much as on the alternative fringes - often means to fly around the globe, to form transnational networks and do field work in remote parts of the world. The production of critical knowledge depends of a productive process that involves a mobility that can only be enjoyed by few. While all this puts an ethical question mark to the way activism and academia are done, it is by no means a new phenomenon. Trotzki criticized western „tourists of the revolution“ to the Soviet Union in the 1920s and in fact many of „the big guys“ of theory and activism like for example K. Marx and F. Engels where in fact active travelers, political-academic tourists. Their travel experience, their tourist gaze at the slums of London and Manchester influenced their theorizing, changed their world views and therefore ours.

Personal travel experiences seem to have a significant meaning also today in the „becoming“ of subjectivities within the global justice movement, while its physical and discursive spaces are constituted around the practices and metaphors of the nomadic and fluid. Within these spaces the understanding of politics today is multiple and contested.


Open Space: What's your travel experience?

A critique of „political travels“ should recognize the personal dimension of the phenomenon and start from our experiences as travelers and post-travelers. This is why for this activity I would like to ask potential participants to prepare for the workshop a short (5-10 mins.) biographical narrative about the role of travel experience in their becoming engaged with social change. This can be published here.

travelexperience participant1 travelexperience participant2

Discuss: Travel Morals, Travel Experience

From here we will move on in the workshop to discuss together ethics and aesthetics of travel, relating to the discursive frameworks in which the personal narratives are placed. The process of describing and filtering the discursive structures of the personal narratives will be done collectively within the workshop. With the material gathered the purpose of further discussions will be to address issues that have developed in the process of presenting and structuring the personal narratives.

Beyond this special attention will be given to the relation of experience and action within the travel-social change nexus. Furthermore the revolutionary potential and the ethical issues of travel practices in our times will be discussed. Historical and theoretical background knowledge of all participants and the moderators will feed into the workshop and help to situate the knowledge shared and produced.

For questions, suggestions and info about this project please write to Fabian: fab(at)in-no.org