Ethnography of hope in extreme places: Ahrendt's Agora in controversial tourism destinations

R Isaac, VCJM Platenkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
162 Downloads (Pure)


In this critical review article, Isaac and Platenkamp present the case that tourism is not isolated from the world's dramatic situations in which humanity is at stake. Their argument principally centers on the devastating historical and contemporary conflict in Palestine and its relations with tourism. In this article, Isaac and Platenkamp maintain that (in relation to current happenings in Palestine) ethical and moral argumentation would be beside the point, and might even be a "cynical" exercise. They suggest that the conflict there is imbued with many kinds of normative argumentation. It is their view that positions need to be taken with regard to "Palestine," as in all extreme circumstances, where at the same time respect for the other positions becomes crucial. In this critical review article, therefore, Arendt's idea of "agora" will be introduced, in order to create a space where these "respectful positions" can be taken in a public arena and in order to contribute to a possible peaceful development. To Isaac and Platenkamp, tourism could enable this sort of "peaceful development" and could promote or help empower conditions where violence would be excluded, and where different sorts of "argumentation" could be generated and heard about these so-called "controversial spaces." In these respects, they maintain that tourism is a challenging field, because it has (itself) many faces-and they argue that such scenarios for "tourism" indeed could apply/should be applied for many controversial other spaces like Nepal and Burma (for instance) where (as in Palestine) the original population has no say in any economic development, such as that of tourism. But Isaac and Platenkamp recognize that (even in Burma) resistance against injustice can never be destroyed. Their own principal focus remains targeted upon Palestine, though. There, tourism is known to have "an incredibly high potential," despite the fact that (in their view) a strong and powerful "Israeli self" indeed controls the "humiliated Palestinian other." Thus, to our two reviewers in the Netherlands, therefore, tourism seems to be a communicative activity that might enable the implementation of Arendt's idea of and about "the agora." Isaac and Platenkamp suggest that there is no violence in the agora, itself, because only the force of argumentation rules. there.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-186
Number of pages14
JournalTourism Culture & Communication
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Agora
  • Critical theory
  • Mode 3
  • Pluralist normativity
  • Self-other
  • Tourism opportunities


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