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Panel 45. Tourism and contemporary urbanization: practices, issues and agendas


  • Thiago Allis, Associate Professor. University of São Paulo, Brazil. Email:
  • Mercedes González Bracco, Adjunct Researcher. National Scientific and Technical Research Council – Argentina. Email:


While European and North American cities struggle against tourism saturation (or, as widely named, “overtourism”) or violent gentrification, in other parts – such as Latin America, Southeast Asia and some parts of Africa – the presence of tourism generates variegated spatial patterns and raises questions of a different nature – for example, the contrast between a desire for fruition within an infamous social-spatial gap. In any case, one can no longer deny the homogenizing character of tourist aesthetics and the intricate connection between hegemonic agents that operate on the edges or in the cracks of the established tourist system. Therefore, it is inescapable to discuss the role of tourism in contemporary urbanization, whether in its evident manifestations or in more subtle forms.

Angelo & Goh (2020), engaging on the debate on planetary urbanization, suggest that more empirical approaches are needed in urban studies, especially from the Global South. Indeed, in addition to illustrating particular processes of social, political, cultural and landscape formation, this can be a starting point for theorizations to foster the debate on the urban condition as a whole. This assumption is quite relevant when one deals with tourism in the interface with urban studies, given that the notion of urban tourism has been historically associated with European urbanity, producing a conceptual framework that almost always ignores or minimizes non-European urban issues.

Therefore, in this session, we seek to understand how the forms, agendas and discussions about tourism in/of cities intersect, with reference to the (im)mobility of various elements between the Global North and South: movement (and also stillness) of tourists, workers and migrants; production and dissemination of urban models (almost always associated with city marketing policies); flows of public or private investments; impact of short-term rental services, constitution and circulation of tourist images and imaginaries, to name a few. For this analysis, it is worth recognizing multiple expressions of tourism mobilities, within the framework of the “pentagram of mobilities” (Novy, 2018), covering everything from the typical tourist to locals of (large) who perform tourist behaviors. In particular, we seek to grasp how different subjects and organizations that co-exist in contemporary urban life (public managers, resident and collective organizations, small businesses and commercial conglomerates, etc.) are engaging in the production of spaces and tourism dynamics.

Called off-the-beaten-tracks tourism (Condevaux et al., 2016), alternative tourism or community-based tourism, the urban world – and in particular large cities, either in North or Global South – is witnessing the emergence of relevant proposals for situated tourism, which, on the one hand, questions and provide alternative tourism programs to mass tourism and, at the same time, sheds light on social aspects normally ignored by conventional tourist practices. Thus, we are especially interested in bringing to light counter-hegemonic manifestations of tourism, in different combinations of intention, narrative and realization, enhancing bodily aesthetics (physical or virtual), spatial behaviors, political debates, economic dynamics and, even, new urban agendas.

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

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