HomeThe manufacture of the sites of desire

HomeThe manufacture of the sites of desire

The manufacture of the sites of desire

La fabrique des lieux de désir

The eroticisation of tourist places

L'érotisation des lieux touristiques

*  *  *

Published on Wednesday, September 03, 2014


Comment un lieu touristique est-il imaginé, produit et pratiqué comme un lieu érotique ? Ce colloque vise à explorer comment certains lieux peuvent être fabriqués, transformés ou investis par les imaginaires et les pratiques érotiques des touristes. Il ne s’agit bien sûr pas d’essentialiser l’érotisme des lieux, mais de saisir les processus (géographiques, historiques, culturels, économiques, etc.) de leur érotisation, d’en identifier les logiques, les acteurs et les conséquences. L’enjeu de ce colloque est de tenter de mieux comprendre le tourisme, dans toute la variété de ses formes, en questionnant l’érotisation des lieux. Les destinations privilégiées du tourisme sexuel comptent parmi ces lieux érotisés, mais il en existe bien d’autres.



How is a tourist site imagined, produced, and experienced as an erotic site? Since the 1980s, many researchers have linked tourism to sexuality by emphasizing sex tourism, which they define as international travel aimed at purchasing sex services (legally or not). Lying beyond this contested definition, the issue of tourists’ sexuality has remained largely neglected, and the eroticization of destination countries has often been confused with the eroticization of their sex workers.

This colloquium seeks to explore tourists’ imaginaries and erotic practices as they build, transform or engage precise sites. We are not speaking about the essentializing of site eroticism, but about comprehending eroticization processes (geographical, historical, cultural, economic processes, etc.), and identifying their rationales, participants, and outcomes. To us, “eroticization” means the production of desire objects (sexual, amorous, sensual, etc.). At stake in this colloquium is a better understanding of the diverse forms of tourism, which is achieved through the questioning of site eroticization. These eroticized sites include the prime destinations of sexual tourism, but not only.

We welcome every discipline and approach, from any terrain, and about every topic. Since sexual tourism is already a well covered subject, we will accept only the papers that highlight the eroticization of places instead of people (unless they belong to a site), or that question the notion of ‘sex tourism’ to better conceptualize the eroticization of tourist sites. More generally, we prefer papers whose theoretical challenges enlarge empirical findings.

We invite the conference participants to take one of the four following paths:

1. The erotic dimension of tourist imaginaries

Building on a colloquium on tourist imaginaries (Berkeley, 2011), we will identify and qualify site imaginary (Venice, Tahiti, etc.) and site typology (countries, the tropics, islands, beaches, cities, or neighborhoods like ‘red light’ districts), which various tourists consider erotic for good or bad reasons. Means of transportation or tourist accommodation can also be eroticized.

According to which narratives, values, and collective or individual ideals, may a site be called erotic or erogenous? What are the components and articulations of this imaginary? To which feature (landscape, climate, inhabitants, vegetation, etc.) or site practice does it refer? Is it related to sexuality, eroticism, love feelings, or sensuality? On which ideologies, discourses, and images is it based? To which extent is it associated with instances of liberation, transgression, and sexual taboos? How does it interact with the desires and emotions proper to tourism? What is the role of distance? How is this imaginary produced and communicated (travel guides, tourist marketing, media, fines arts, internet, etc.)? How does it move through space and time? What are its individual and collective elements? To what degree does it change with tourists’ culture, nationality, gender or sexual orientation? How is this imaginary perceived by native inhabitants? In these sites, are tourists themselves eroticized, and by who?

2. Tourist practices in eroticized sites

We hypothesize that tourists do in eroticized sites what they will not do elsewhere.

To what degree does site eroticization alter tourist identity and experience (sexuality, sensuality, intimacy, feelings, emotions, etc.)? Is it signaled by specific touristic practices (accommodation, transportation, touring, consumption)? Does it lead to specific encounters (between tourists, between tourists and residents)? What are the nature and significance of physical engagement? What part does the virtual play in the latter? How does the tourist imaginary confront the physical sites as perceived by tourists? Are the anticipation and memory of the visits of eroticized sites endowed with an erotic dimension? What about repeat tourism?

3. The production of erotic sites by and for tourists

Site eroticization results from the activities led by stakeholders who are involved, willingly or not, in the development of tourism. Who are they, what are their rationales, and what are their results?

To which extent is site eroticism a resource that is included in the development of tourism? What are the features of tourism in eroticized sites when eroticization is identified as a tourist resource? What are the actual contributions made by tour-

operators, local communities, and the domestic and international professionals of the tourism industry?

To which extent are tourists themselves implied in site eroticizing? To which extent do the residents of eroticized sites participate in the process? Does eroticization depend on a performance (by tourists, local actors)? What are the events or landmarks that guide tourist eroticization? What are the economic, social, political, moral, landscape, etc., consequences of tourism development?

4. Research in and on eroticized tourist sites

Eroticized tourist sites engender specific ethical, methodological and epistemological problems that are linked to the place of desire and a possible confusion between tourists and researchers’ identities.

How do researchers differ from tourists, and vice versa? How should fieldworkers position themselves and engage their fields (according to gender, country of origin, sexuality, local context, etc.)? How should they manage their own desires? Do we set limits to personal involvement? What are they, and where do they come from? What are the taboos and transgressions, and for who? Within this framework, how can they conduct participant observation

Guidelines submission

For your proposal, please send your proposal to pforet@bluewin.ch with the following pieces of information:

  • Your name and title
  • Your affiliation
  • Your email address
  • The title of your paper
  • An abstract in a single paragraph
  • The titles of your most relevant  publications

before Monday, November 3, 2014.

The organization committee will review your proposal. All submissions will be double-blind peer-reviewed. We will inform you on Monday, November 24, 2014 if yours is accepted. Please use the proposal form below.

The abstracts and presentations should be written either in English or in French. We plan to publish the best conference papers.

Scientific committee

  • Jean-François Staszak (Université de Genève)
  • Maria Gravari-Barbas (Université de Paris 1)
  • Nelson Graburn (University of California at Berkeley)


Registration to the conference is mandatory, whether or not you plan to give a pa-per. The registration fee is Swiss Francs 100 (Euros 80 or USD 110). Please use the registration form.

Financial support

We are applying for conference grants in order to refund the travel and accommoda-tion expenses of many participants. Please keep your receipts!


Dates: From Wednesday, June 24 to Friday, June 26, 2015

Venue: The University of Geneva (Switzerland): www.unige.ch

For more information on the event, participation requirements, and conference up-dates, please visit our web page.

Web page:




  • Université de Genève Unimail - Boulevard du Pont d'Arve
    Geneva, Switzerland


  • Monday, November 03, 2014


  • tourisme, érotisation, sexualité, imaginaire


  • Philippe Forêt
    courriel : pforet [at] bluewin [dot] ch

Information source

  • Jean-François Staszak
    courriel : jean-francois [dot] staszak [at] unige [dot] ch


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The manufacture of the sites of desire », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, September 03, 2014, https://calenda.org/298463

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search