The Island: Work, Tourism and the Biopolitical

Claudio Minca*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reflects on the biopolitical implications for tourists and workers of enclavic tourist resorts. I contend that the concept of ‘the Island’ captures very well the metaphorical, but also the functional proximity between many tourist ‘islands’ and other past and contemporary forms of encampment and seclusion. I will thus explore the relationship between the idea of ‘the Island’ in tourism and the production and reproduction of what are supposedly docile bodies and minds. I will suggest that in the island-like resort, the docile bodies of the tourist and of the worker come into contact and interact in very particular ways, marked by the distinct nature of the context that hosts their encounter. The space of that encounter is a very interesting haptic contact zone in the production of the tourist experience, a zone where ideas about life, class, habitus, gender, sexuality, the body, etc. are negotiated and where the very concept of work is questioned and may take unpredictable expressions. This is a space that the capitalist production of leisure tries to manage, tame and possibly reduce to a minimum but, paradoxically, this is also a space without which the endless re-enactment of the tourist performance in that place (a re-enactment that constitutes the very foundation of any tourist resort) would simply be impossible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-108
Number of pages21
JournalTourist Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • biopolitics
  • camp
  • geography
  • island
  • tourism
  • work


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