Terrorism, Tourism and the End of Hospitality in the ‘West’


2017-01-16 / www.academia.edu

Terrorism, Tourism and the End of Hospitality in the ‘West’


Maximiliano E Korstanje

University of Palermo, Argentina



Korstanje M E (2017) Terrorism, Tourism and the end of Hospitality in the West. New York, Palgrave-Macmillan.






On 11 September of 2001, US suffered one of the most bloody terrorist attacks on its history, when fourth civil airplanes were directed against civilian and military targets, as real weapons.

Though US harvested a lot of support from international allies of the caliber of Japan, Germany, England and France, no less true is that Bush`s administration opened the gates of hell after Iraq-led invasion. Though Bush and “radcons” were widely criticized by such a unilateral decision, the fact is that few studies trace back to 9/11 as the origin of the current crisis of refugees in Syria and Middle East. As Sageman (2014) observes, one of the main limitations of terrorism-research not only rests in its stagnation, resulted from the speculative nature of their approaches, but by the gap created between academia and media. 

Following this reasoning, Luke Howie (2012) goes in the same direction when says that mass-media is fraught of “pseudo-experts” who devote their time in anticipating the next terrorist attack, or simply giving their opinion with the latest edition of New York Times or Washington Post. 

As social scientists we are unable to speak of terrorism unless we infiltrate in a terrorist cell, paying attention to our key informant`s life-stories. If we had success, surely we shall be pressed –if not tortured- by police and intelligence officials to share our information. The reluctance in giving security forces further information about our ethnographies will place us as “enemies of the nation”, “collaborationists of terrorists” or “traitors”. Let`s cite one excerpts where Allen Feldman echoes on the double dialectics of state, to demonize (in this case terrorism) what should be sanitized, or “eradicated”.

“In Northern Ireland violence is covertly performed by clandestine organizations and thus characterized by invisible web of causations. The public construction of a suspected terrorist by the state, through the performance of arrest and subsequent political assassination, creates a personifying imaginary of the origin of violence and disorder. Arrest envisions the terrorist in order to process this juridical object through various system of expulsion and erasure that include breaking the suspect under interrogation, imprisonment, and covert assassination” (Feldman, 1991: 109) To wit, Howie and Feldman coincide that the best channels for

our objectivity seems to be exploring the effects of terrorism in our daily lives. 


After all, what global audience knows on Muslim World is far from being real, it was historically constructed by the articulation of different stereotypes, allegories and traits. It is interesting to discuss the romantic reaction to Muslim community as well as the signs of racism and intolerance as a direct consequence of the already-existent climate of terror, laypeople undergo in contemporary societies (Werbner 2005; Schryock 2010). The rise of Islamophobia bespeaks of us as society and our limitations to understand the Otherness which functions as a mirror of what is internally repressed. This means that the sense of strangers represents our derivative repressed image projected to an external object (Skoll 2016). The formation and subsequent maturation of collective fears corresponds with “the repressed self-image”. To set a clear example after 9/11, which was the major event that shocked New Yorkers and the entire World, many social scientists and journalists predicted that United States was on an imminent danger of mass-destruction weapons. Not only this never occurred to date, but also augmented a dormant fear which resulted from the lack of public repentance for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the collective memory, psychoanalysis showed, fears express invisible forces underlying in our inner-world. In that way, each generation louds with the faults of ancestors validating a libidinal attachment that conditions the behavior in present (Fromm, 2012). Hence, the present book is aimed at discussing not only the aftermaths of 9/11 in capitalist culture, but also deepening in how terrorism is affected the touchstone of Western civilization: hospitality. It must be emphasized that this project that has took many years of my life, is the product of a profound reflection which is oriented to decipher what is the interconnection of terrorism and leisure. It is vital to precise what the main concern of this theoretical approach is. One of the things challenged me to write in a language which is not my native option was the needs of telling a global audience Latin America experienced the devastating effects of political violence and terrorism through 70s decade. Even today there are some residual aftermaths of terrorism in modern politics. Though great changes suddenly happen without previous notice, Latin Americans sacrificed their democratic institutions to achieve a more secure society.

The red-scare overweighed a weak check-and-balance systems in nations urged to tackle serious economic problems (Timmermann 2014; Korstanje 2015; Feierstein, 2014). Rather, political scientists in English Speaking countries vaunted of more democratic institutions. Though it is partially true, what they ignore is that terrorism may flourish in prosperous economies as well as democracies from one moment to another. What is clear, terrorism erodes the basis of democracy, tightening the institutional reaction before the rise of populist discourses. However, there are some significant differences between classic and modern terrorism which merits to be discussed. Basically, if terrorist cells in 70s decade targeted important politicians (as presidents or ministers), or Chief Police officers, after 9/11, Islamic terrorism appeared to declare the “jihad” against tourism and hospitality industries. Many policymakers and analysts in tourism fields were concerned on the advance of terrorism over the recent decades (Pizam & Fleisher, 2002; Fisher 2003; Tarlow 2014; Mansfeld & Pizam 2006). At some extent, tourism fieldworkers acknowledged that terrorism should be contemplated as a real threat for the industry, but instead of providing a clear diagnosis of the problem, they launched to develop an academic platform oriented to riskmanagement. Underpinned in the belief that tourism serves as peace-builder to expand democracies to Middle East, specialists pay attention to the effects of terrorism in leisure-spots instead of deepening their analysis on its causes. More interested in orchestrating mitigation plans to strengthen the security at international destinations or mitigate the negative effects of potential terrorist actions, tourism-related researchers ignored the historical intersection of leisure and terrorism. The present book, needless to say, intends fulfill this gap reminding not only how the notion of otherness was drawn in western social imaginaries, but detailing how anarchism mined the ideological core of capitalism. To put this in bluntly, terrorism is modern tourism by other means.


A map of this book can be summarized as follows, The first chapter dissects how European intelligentsia imagined the world beyond its borders. While Europe launched to colonize the world, a strange paternalism paved the ways for indexing the new “non-wester other”, as an inferior “entity” to protect.

This opens the doors to a paradoxical situation because military forces conquered the world by the orchestration of bloody clashes the science adopted a romantic view to discipline the rebels by non-violent policies. One of the aspects that defined the Western ethnocentrism correlated to a sentiment of paternalism where the “cultural difference”, which was consolidated by scientific project, produced what David Riesman called the “other-oriented gaze”. The other who does not look like-me is treated as a good-inferior savage. As a result of this, European expansion coincides with a great technological advance that was capitalized by literature and novel industries to flourish as never before. At this facet, the gap between periphery and center, which was fostered during colonization process, was enlarged once European nations adopted capitalism as their main source of production.

The second chapter discusses critically the concept of civility. Confronting to Hobbesian thesis and the sense of security, we understand that nation-state was legally legitimated by the law making which dissociated from the needs of dissociating individuality from a third-object. The figure of Leviathan not only monopolized the use of force to keep a climate of order and civil security, but interpelatted citizenship about its impossibility to exercise violence. While the sense of state imposed, the borderlands divided ethnicities that shared the same tradition, into two contrasting sides. As a dispositiffs of power, the creation of border (following Foucaltian studies) was of paramount importance in the production of a national wellbeing. While industrialism emancipated medieval peasants from the attachment of soil, urbanization produced heavier impacts on social scaffolding such us slums and ghettos. As this back drop, no less true was that a new concept of civility erected a barrier between the modern city and external world.

Rather, Third chapter, which is entitled the rise of nation-state and free transit, outlines in the Conquest of Americas as a founding event to the expansion of capitalism. Following Anthony Pagden`s outcomes, we describe how the discourse of hospitality is politically tergiversated to validate the idea aboriginals were sub-humans. In part, because Spain colonized this continent as Rome did in Europe, but and most important, what is important to discuss is to what extent hospitality plays a vital role subordinating indigenous to European archetype, at the time it endorsed legitimacy to Spain over this new world. In so doing, hospitality not only accompanied the ideological discourse of nation-state but free transit became in the oxygen of West.

Cosmopolitanism has its risks, and the fourth chapter is vital to understand the common-thread of the argument in this discussion because of two main reasons. On a closer look, through nineteenth century a powerful force of migrants arrived to Americas, fulfilling the economic requirement of new workers in United States, Brazil and Argentina. If the passage of medieval age to industrialism impoverished thousands of peasants, this irreversible trend led many citizens to migrate to other destinations in quest of better opportunities. Within the cohort of European migrants, a few bunch of anarchists exerted a radical violence not only against authorities but also against capital-owners. While governments struggled to deport them, a more subtle group opted for organizing the worker unions. A new surfacing working force was ideologically trained by anarchists coming from Italy, Russia and Germany. At the same time, nation-state endorsed to anarchists better working conditions, paving the pathways for the rise of modern tourism and mobilities, terrorism was expelled outside the frontiers. This suggests two important assumptions to develop in the book. The first lies in the fact that without terrorism, modern tourism would never exist. The second is that modern tourism is a disciplined form of anarchist terrorism.

Chapter five focuses on the current interplay between tourism and terrorism insofar we perceive the violence is now directed against anonymous civilians. As stated, most recent terrorist attacks took place at leisure-spots, malls, or tourist destinations. Even, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who was the ISIS`s leader, declared the “jihad” against modern tourism. If the sense of mobilities was historically manipulated for European nations to show their supremacy over non-western World, now terrorism seems to use this concept against the most important centers of consumption of West. Doubtless, the sentiment of panic each time these leisure-spots are hit is triplicated by the coverage of media. This suggests what Howie and M. Eid claimed in their respective seminal books, oddly media serves as the conduit for terrorism to disseminate the message. It is important not to lose the sight that terrorists do not want a lot of people dying, they want preferably a lot of people watching!. In this chapter we coin the term “Thana-capitalism” to denote a new stage of production in late capitalism, where the other`s death became in the main commodity that mediates between citizens (consumers) and their institutions.

The sixth chapter centers the debate on how the psychological fear is stimulated not only to discipline work-force internally, but also by constructing what Jean Baudrillard dubbed “the culture of disaster. In consonance with this polemic but not less solid argument, we emphasize on the need of breaking the vicious circle between journalism which seek to cover terrorism containing news to gain further investors, and terrorism cells that needs from mass publicity to their acts. In the days of Thana Capitalism, one of the paradoxes is that though audience considers terrorism acts disturbing they cannot step from consuming the news. Symbolically this happens because the others` suffering reinforces the supremacy of self, which remains untouched from the cruelty of terrorists. The others` death reminds not only how special we are, but also we are chosen to be part of a privilege-class, death-seekers.

Last but not least, seventh chapter examines how the crystallization of Thana-Capitalism affected tourism industry changing the ways the strangers were contemplated and scrutinized. Needless to say, anthropology should play a leading role in providing new theories to understand “cosmopolitanism”, and the position of this global dangerous other in Europe.

Discussing directly with Derrida as well as other scholars, this section focuses on how hospitality is dying. The end of hospitality represents a serious challenge of Europe simply because it was “the alma matter” of its rationality and social trust. At time terrorism targets “the exemplary center of consumption” to extortionate the developed nation-states, the surveillance at borderlands is strengthened. In the years to come, the philosophical discourse will not be given by the discursive rivalry between conditioned or unconditioned hospitality, instead the following question surfaces, what is the correct treatment for strangers?

Occident, of course it is the main thesis of this book, echoes the metaphor of medical gaze, which finds the pathogen, or the affected organ as an efficient mode to colonize the sickness. If nothing can be done, the affected organ is extirpated in order for the body to be saved. In other terms, everything should be done in the name of life, no matter the means of how intrusive the method may be. Applied to the case of terrorism, the same belief entails that Muslim community runs serious risks to be martyrized in the name of security. A radicalized image of the otherness, which is constructed by West during centuries, adjoined to the rise of global paralyzing fear contributes to what we dubbed “the end of hospitality”.