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26 JAN 2024 (FRI) 15:00

HKU GEOGRAPHY: Monthly Research Talks

Tourism Geopolitics

Date: 26 JAN 2024 (Friday)

Time: 15:00 (HKT)

(No registration required)


The Geopolitics of China’s Arctic Tourism Resources


Chinese outbound tourism is extending into new frontiers, including the Arctic. In this region, where the Chinese state does not claim territorial sovereignty, it seeks to exert its influence by other means. One strategy involves the development of ‘tourism resources’, which the government’s 2018 Arctic Policy promotes. In line with recent work interrogating the geopolitics of tourism, I draw on a review of policy and media documents complemented by field observations to interrogate how the Chinese state and enterprises seek to envision, regulate and extract value from three key forms of tourism resources: individuals, infrastructure and data. Empirically, I advance knowledge of the politics and processes underlying Chinese tourism in a new region. Theoretically, I contribute to a critical geopolitics that reflects upon how governments can develop resources and exercise authority in spaces where they lack territorial sovereignty and where physical territory may be altogether absent, as in the high seas or cyberspace. This study is particularly timely in light of the Chinese state’s expanding governance of areas and issues experiencing calls for international cooperation, including not only the Arctic but also the global commons, the internet and climate change.

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, HKU


War Travels: Militarized (De)Tourism and the Vietnam War


This paper explores the everyday entanglements of militarism and tourism that helped sustain soldiering life during the Vietnam War. Free world soldiers in Vietnam were entitled to take between five and seven days of leave in “rest and recuperation” sites located within the warzone and across the Pacific more generally. This paper places the literature on militourism in conversation with close readings of archival sources to show how imperial soldier-tourists used transpacific infrastructures of military R&R in a diversity of ways. Militourists in colonized cities such as Manila and Hong Kong often enacted heteronormative fantasies of leisure, seeking out intimate and predatory relationships with local women. But the US military also valued R&R as a mechanism for reuniting soldiers with their families and transformed Honolulu into a site for hosting such forms of leave. When considered together, these different forms of militourism emphasize how transpacific R&R infrastructures served simultaneously as conduits of gendered violence, terrains of racial management, and objects of political struggle. What this paper offers, then, is a more complex understanding of militourism: one that reclaims vernacular cultures of travel from militaries, markets, and empires, and repurposes them to further the urgent work of abolition, decolonization, and demilitarization.

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, HKU



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