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Tourism Landscapes and Luxury Consumption Conference

Date: 11 & 12 September 2008 Time: 11.30am

Luxury Consumption and Tourism Landscapes

Institute for Advanced Studies @ Lancaster University>

11 and 12 September 2008

Workshop organised by the Departamento de Análisis Geográfico Regional y Geografía Física, Facultad de Geografía e Historia. UCM, Spain; Departamento de Antropología Social, Facultad de CC. Políticas y Sociología. UCM, Spain and 'mediterranean mobilities' - CeMoRe, Lancaster University, UK

Invited speakers:

Jonathan V. Beaverstock, University of Nottingham, UK. 'Locating the Global-super Rich in Contemporary Globalization'

Ghislain Dubois, Executive Director, TEC Consultants / Associate Professor, Versailles University, France. 'Tourism and Climate Change: Luxury and Inequality in the Access to mobility'

Pau Obrador, Sunderland University, UK. 'Dreams of luxury, Mediterranean Tourism and Bio-politics'

Rothanti Tzanelli, Leeds University, UK. 'The DaVinci Node: between 'Staged Cosmopolitanism' and Democratised Consumption'

Ana García Silberman, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. 'A taste for a distinctive Caribbean: Exclusive Tourism in Yucatán's Haciendas'

Mimi Sheller, Swarthmore University, USA. 'Sim-City-sur-Mer: Virtual Islands, Tourism Mobilities, and the Offshore Caribbean'

John Urry, Centre for Mobilities Research, UK. 'Reassessing Luxury and Excess'

(Please see information about the speakers below)

Signs of conspicuous ostentation proliferate along Caribbean and Mediterranean landscapes. Megayachts, private islands, ultra-expensive mansions, luxury hotels, and exclusive restaurants and country clubs speak of the prominence these regions are gainning in the transnational lifestyles of the super-rich. Luxury has been no stranger to places like Antigua, Belize, Bahamas, Barbados, St Tropez, Mallorca, or Monte Carlo in the 20th century. Yet the scale and geographical scope of recent developments are a reflection of the rapid polarisation of wealth in the last two decades and the rising number of individuals engrossing the lists of the multi-millionaire, mega-rich and billionaire (increase of 200,000 people in 2003 totalling 7.3 million globally). Social scientists are beginning to map out the spaces and practices of the super-rich in metropolitan areas of industrial countries and examine their significance in altering city landscapes. Understanding these mobile elites requires also a closer escrutiny of their transnational lifestyles and the constelation of places interconnected through their consumption patterns.

This workshop will examine luxury consumption in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean paying particular attention to the wider social, economic and environmental implications of elite lifestyles and their role in articulating flows of people, images, fantasies, objects and money.The Caribbean and the Mediterranean are particularly interesting areas for the study of the new high-earners. The democratisation of tourism in the postwar period partially eclypsed their earlier image as playgrounds of elite consumption and witnessed the emergence of discourses about their environmental destruction in the hands of herd-like tourists. Today their image of places spoiled by mass tourism co-exists in stark contrast with landscaped enclavic resorts evoking a sense of distinction and ecology. This should not be seen as a completely new trend. Mass tourism has always involved a paradoxical combination of narratives about accessibility and the democratization of travel along with unavoidable rounds of distinction games. Yet an interesting question in the age of the risk society and global resource scarcity is the way in which the rising aspirations and 'luxury fever' of the middle classes animated by the extravagant lifestyles of the super-rich are being negotiated with concerns about environmental limits.

Topics covered by the workshop include but are not restricted to:

  • Cultures and practices of elite consumption in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean from a historical perspective;
  • Manifestations of the 'luxury fever' among middle classes in mass resorts today and historically;
  • Changing perceptions of the 'mass' element in mass tourism in relation with elite consumption;
  • New de- and re-naturalizations of landscapes taking place around elite consumpion;
  • Media representations of luxury tourism;
  • Effects of ostentation in cultures of hospitality and, more specifically, on the solidarities these conspicuous lifestyles are enabling or hindering among the 'ordinary' people;
  • Significance of the consumer spaces and practices of the super-rich in articulating global flows of people, objects, money and ideas;
  • Infrastructures enabling the transnational lifestyles of the super rich;
  • Methodological challenges of researching the residential and consumer spaces/practices of the super-rich.


The Workshop will be held in the Institute for Advanced Studies Rooms 2/3 at Lancaster University on 11-12 September. A few places are still available. The regular registration fee is £50 and the unwaged registration fee is £25 to include all meeting costs, lunch on both days and tea/coffee. There will be a dinner in Lancaster on the night of the 11th (not covered by the registration fees). Please let us know if you would like to attend. If required, a range of overnight accommodation is available at own cost in Lancaster.

You can register here

and contact Javier Caletrio for any queriesWe hope to see you in September.

Javier Caletrío

Matilde Córdoba Azcárate

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Javier Caletrío, John Urry

Associated projects: Mediterranean Research Network

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe), Geography, Lancaster Environment Centre, Institute for Advanced Studies, Sociology

Keywords: Mediterranean, Mobilities, Tourism


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
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