Reading: Sheller Natural Hedonism

Sheller, M. (2004). Natural hedonism. The invention of Caribbean islands as tropical playgrounds. In D. Duval. Tourism in the Caribbean: Trends, development, prospects (Contemporary geographies of leisure, tourism, and mobility; 3). London; New York: Routledge. 23-38.

This reading will help you examine the way that historical representations of the Caribbean continue to impact the way that the Caribbean and its people are seen today. This illustrates the importance of the literature, paintings, novels, traveler accounts to our conceptualization of the world. Today we can add to this list by thinking of the impact of advertising campaigns, travel vlogs and social media accounts.   As you complete this whole module on historical and contemporary representations of the Caribbean, ask yourself these questions about the Caribbean and also your own country and/or community. What images dominate? Who/which institutions circulate them and why? Who is the primary audience for these images? 

The focus of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to evaluate your own learning. Answer the questions to the best of your ability. You will receive the grade for completing the assignment well. Complete the assignment and compare your answers to those in the answer key.

  1. Looking at Sheller’s argument, how do you think early representations of the Caribbean might have contributed to the justification for European invasion of the region.
  • What was the image of the Caribbean that was dominant in the 18th century and what impact did it have on imperialism?
  • What does Sheller mean when she says, “the Tourist gaze imbues tropical with moral meanings.”?
  • How were White Caribbean people (Creoles in this text) defined by the dominant representations of the Caribbean?

Just so you know (this is not part of the question, this is just information because the world will pop up from time to time) the word ‘creole’ is a complex word of shifting meanings depending on location. It originated in linguistics and was used to describe languages that mixed different elements. It is used to identify different groups of people in different Caribbean territories. For example,  in Trinidad and Guyana Creole is often used to mean the African descended people of those two countries,  In other territories in the Caribbean Creole means the white Caribbean people. In other places it means people who have multiple heritages. Beyoncé, and many people in New Orleans use creole in this same multiracial way.

  • How did 19th century representations of the Caribbean differ from 18th century representations?

6    If Sheller’s argument is correct, how might representations of the Caribbean shape interactions between tourist and locals.?

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