Call for papers

Tourism as a biopolitical phenomenon


The links between life, politics and power are central to contemporary social sciences, among other things through the emergence of the concept of biopolitics. The importance of biopolitical analyzes is such that some authors even speak of a biopolitical shift in social sciences (Campbell and Sitze, 2013; Lemke, 2011; Mills, 2017). By biopolitics we mean the political production of life marked by a will to manage the lives of populations and the very conceptualization of the life and death of individuals (Roelofsen and Minca, 2018, Tzanelli, 2015) while producing new forms of subjectivities (Foucault, 2004; Mills, 2017) through language, values​​and affect (Hardnt and Negri, 2000).

Tourism is no exception to this theoretical turn. Indeed, the biopolitical manifestations of tourism are not recent, as evidenced by the health motivation of the seaside resorts and thermalism, or the national organization of recreation in fascist regimes with the avowed aim of shaping the workers' body (Dietschy, 2008). In a systematic literature review, Lapointe and Coulter (2020) underline the emergence of research work combining tourism and biopolitics in a context where tourism is increasingly omnipresent in contemporary social and political systems (Brouder, 2019; Lapointe and O'Neil Coulter, 2019; Lapointe, Sarrasin, and Benjamin, 2018; Stock, 2020). This call for papers calls focus three dimensions relative to biopolitics and tourism: space, technology and bodies.

Geographers have particularly invested the biopolitical field of tourism, more particularly in the production of exclusive and isolated tourist areas. Strongly imbued with the thought of Agamben (1998), Claudio Minca's work on “resorts” (Minca, 2010, 2012) and hotels (Minca and Ong, 2016) present these spaces as exceptional spaces, in the meaning of Agamben (1998), and body control. For their part, Ek and Hultman (2008) focus on the assemblage of discourses and technologies implemented by the golf industry in the Öresund region of Sweden. According to these authors, tourism, around golf in their case, reorder places through the search for experiences conditioned by speeches and technological interfaces. In this assemblage, the landscape is subject to experience, to the provision of services, and mobility control. However, these works leave several questions unanswered. How do non-exclusive tourist areas fit into the state of exception via otherness in the host environment? How do public tourism policies combine with (bio) policies that frame social (re) production (housing, health, food, etc.) for resident populations, but also for visitors?

The proliferation of technologies associated with tourism constitutes another biopolitical dimension of the tourism phenomenon. Indeed, this falls into two categories, those associated with surveillance (Adey, 2009) and those associated with the mediation of the experience (Ek and Hultman, 2008; Roelofsen and Minca, 2018). If the link with control and surveillance technologies is in line with the Foucauldian vision of biopolitics, such as Adey (2009) argue in its work on the control and surveillance process associated with post-September 2001 airports; the technologies of intermediation of experience rather relate to the production of subjectivity in the expansion of neoliberal capitalism (Lapointe et al., 2018; Roelofsen and Minca, 2018). The example of Airbnb's Superhost program presented by Roelofsen and Minca (2018) is emblematic of a technology that becomes the interface that integrates the private sphere (the home) into the market economy, but also of standardization, and subject self-discipline generated by the program. If AirBnb is today the heart of the biopolitical analysis of the interface between technology and tourism (Pennell, 2021), the technopolitical assembly of other platforms deserves to be questioned from a biopolitical angle, just think at the tandem Instagram / Google map in the symbolic and physical (re) production of the New York staircase of the Joker (Tzanelli, 2021). In addition, the dataification of the political and tourist subject, and its role in the creation of groups of populations to be managed, are also little addressed by tourism studies, not to mention the links between tourism and the surveillance society. These links go well beyond the security systems used in airports and at borders to also include the multiple technological devices that travel with tourists (GPS, smart phones, drone, etc.)

The third dimension is the one that has been addressed the most by tourism studies, namely the question of the body. On the one hand, it addresses the normalization and hierarchization of bodies through, among other things, tourist iconography and photographic representations (Minca, 2010, 2012; Veijola and Jokinen, 1994). This hierarchy integrates the body into the tourism product, creating what Asibong (2018) calls a market of economic and physical exchanges, a market that qualifies bodies and disqualifies others, in unequal relationships. These relations are relations of production, production of domesticated bodies through a standardization of service provision (Minca, 2012; Rose, 2020; Rose, Harmon, and Dunlap, 2019) but also through all the complexity of the intertwining relationship between sexuality and tourism (Staszak, Gravari-Barbas and Graburn). The question of bodies in biopolitics also creates a tension between a micro scale, centered on the individual, its affect, its subjectivity, its actions, and a macro scale of a biopolitical device at the scale of populations, of their constitution into a political body (Esposito, 2011), a tension that needs to be explored by current research on biopolitics, more particularly the role of tourism in this tension.

The importance of the biopolitical dimension of tourism, coupled with sanitary restraints, and biopolitics (Lapointe, Sarrasin, and Lagueux, 2020; Tzanelli, 2020), implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, justifies the development of a special issue of VIA Tourism. This special issue aims to explore the avenues of reflection presented above, without limiting itself to them, by publishing research articles on these biopolitical dimensions of tourism.

Expected contributions may relate to, without being limited to:

- The biopolitical production of tourist areas

- Tourism as a technology of the self;

- Relations between tourism and the surveillance society;

- Data-ification of the tourist subject;

- Tourist mobility and immobility;

- Health and tourism constraints;

- Theoretical perspectives at the crossroads of biopolitics and tourism studies.

Or any other relevant contribution, empirical or theoretical, at the crossroads of biopolitics, biopower and tourism studies.


Adey, P. (2009). Facing Airport Security: Affect, Biopolitics, and the Preemptive Securitisation of the Mobile Body. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27(2), 274-295. doi:10.1068/d0208

Agamben, G. (1998). Homo sacer: Sovereign power and bare life: Stanford University Press.

Asibong, A. (2018). Beyond a carnival of zombies: the economic problem of ‘aliveness’ in Laurent Cantet’s Vers le sud. Studies in French Cinema, 19(4), 279-293. doi:10.1080/14715880.2017.1416328

Brouder, P. (2019). The end of tourism? A Gibson-Graham inspired reflection on the tourism economy. Tourism Geographies, 20(5), 916-918. doi:10.1080/14616688.2018.1519721

Campbell, T., and Sitze, A. (2013). biopolitics. A Reader. Durham and London: Duke UP.

Dietschy, P. (2008). Sport, éducation physique et fascisme sous le regard de l'historien. Revue dhistoire moderne contemporaine, (3), 61-84.

Ek, R., and Hultman, J. (2008). Sticky Landscapes and Smooth Experiences: The Biopower of Tourism Mobilities in the Öresund Region. Mobilities, 3(2), 223-242. doi:10.1080/17450100802095312

Esposito, R. (2011). Immunitas. Cambridge: Polity.

Foucault, M. (2004). Naissance de la biopolitique: cours au Collège de France (1978-1979). EHESS Gallimard Seuil.

Hardnt, M., and Negri, T. (2000). Empire. Cambrdige: Harvard University Press.

Lapointe, D., and Coulter, M. (2020). Place, Labor, and (Im) mobilities: Tourism and Biopolitics. Tourism Culture and Communication, 20(2-3), 95-105.

Lapointe, D., and O’Neil Coulter, M. J. (2019). Experience for Sale: An Exploration of Biopolitics in Tourism. Critical Tourism Studies Proceedings, 2019(1), 43.

Lapointe, D., Sarrasin, B., and Benjamin, C. (2018). Tourism in the Sustained Hegemonic Neoliberal Order. Revista Latino-Americana de Turismologia, 4(1), 16-33. doi:10.34019/2448-198X.2018.v4.13915

Lapointe, D., Sarrasin, B., and Lagueux, J. (2020). Gestion, biopolitique et prospective: Quels regards pour la suite du monde? Téoros. Revue de recherche en tourisme, 39(3).

Lemke, T. (2011). Biopolitics : An Advanced Introduction. New-York: New York University Press.

Mills, C. (2017). Biopolitics: Routledge.

Minca, C. (2010). The Island: Work, Tourism and the Biopolitical. Tourist Studies, 9(2), 88-108. doi:10.1177/1468797609360599

Minca, C. (2012). No country for old men. In C. Minca and T. Oakes (Eds.), Real Tourism : Practice, Care, and Politics in Contemporary travel Culture (pp. 26-51). London: Routledge.

Minca, C., and Ong, C.-E. (2016). The power of space: The biopolitics of custody and care at the Lloyd Hotel, Amsterdam. Political Geography, 52, 34-46. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2015.03.001

Pennell, S. (2021). Airbnb and the paradox of the body: The biopolitical management of hosts in four tourist towns in New Zealand. Journal of Sociology. doi:10.1177/14407833211000122

Roelofsen, M., and Minca, C. (2018). The Superhost. Biopolitics, home and community in the Airbnb dream-world of global hospitality. Geoforum, 91, 170-181. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.02.021

Rose, J. (2020). Biopolitics, Essential Labor, and the Political-Economic Crises of COVID-19. Leisure Sciences, 1-7. doi:10.1080/01490400.2020.1774004

Rose, J., Harmon, J., and Dunlap, R. (2019). Becoming Political: An Expanding Role for Critical Leisure Studies. Leisure Sciences, 40(7), 649-662. doi:10.1080/01490400.2018.1536569

Staszak, J-F, Gravari-Barbas, M. and Graburn, N-H (2018) « Tout ce que vous voulez savoir sur les sexualités touristiques. Ce qu’on en a su, ce qu’on en sait et ce qu’il reste à en savoir », Téoros [Online], 37, 2 | 2018, Online since 28 May 2018, connection on 22 July 2021. URL :

Stock, M. (Ed.) (2020). Progress in French Tourism Geographies : Inhabiting Touristic Worlds. Dordrecht: Springer.

Tzanelli, R. (2020). Virocene Imaginaries: Some Critical Reflections. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies.

Tzanelli, R. (2021). Frictions in Cosmopolitan Mobilities. Northampton: Edward Elgar.

Veijola, S., and Jokinen, E. (1994). The body in tourism. Theory, Culture and Society, 11(3), 125-151.

Terms and formats of contributions

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words and can be submitted by email to the following addresses: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by September 30th 2021.
They can be written in French, English, German, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese or Italian.

- For accepted abstract proposals, the full paper (40,000 characters maximum) deadline is January 30th, 2022.