Tourism and Australian Beach Cultures: Revealing Bodies

Author: Christine Metusela, Gordon Waitt

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Channel View Publications
Number of pages:
210mm x 148mm

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This book explores the ever-changing interconnections between bodies, subjectivities, space, beach cultures and tourism, engaging with the geographies of the beach: its makings, boundaries and meanings for the West. Drawing on feminist scholarship, Christine Metusela and Gordon Waitt explore the reciprocal relationship between bodies and beaches, focusing on the shifting intersection between age, race, class, sex, gender and national discourses that naturalise particular bodies as belonging on the beach. The authors critically examine how subjectivities of bodies are produced under specific circumstances - the Illawarra beaches from 1830-1940, some 80 kilometres beyond the metropolitan centre of Sydney. Drawing on modernisation and nation building discourses, the paradoxical qualities of the Illawarra are highlighted; imagined as both the New Brighton of Australia and the Sheffield of the South.

Tourism and Australian Beach Cultures is an original, sophisticated and revealing history of the 'geographical imaginary' of the Australian beach, which carefully maps the cultural and spatial politics which helped to shape the bodies displayed on it.

Graeme Turner, University of Queensland, Australia

This book is an engaging synthesis of social theories that draws on well-chosen and exciting historical examples from the Illawarra, New South Wales. Explaining the ways in which gendered, sexualised, classed, and racialised bodies and beaches are intimately related, the book is full of ideas and fabulous images, and is at once accessible and challenging. Body politics are shown to be integral to the tourism spaces of beach resorts. Crucially, Christine Metusela and Gordon Waitt's book is a key intervention into the limited critical historical and geographical analyses and practices of beach resorts. It will be of interest to social and cultural geographers, tourism scholars, as well as historians who need to enrich their geographical imaginations.

Lynda Johnston, University of Waikato, New Zealand

The book is an insightful contribution to this area and the authors are to be congratulated on the informed research and analysis this book makes to the study of leisure, tourism and geography.

The insights into the sexualization of the beach and attempts to control that process make Tourism and Australian Beach Cultures an enriching and worthwhile read.

This book picks up from feminist discourse on bodies and processes of marginalization to enhance tourism studies and cultural geography approaches to the Illawarra between 1830 and 1940. It describes the related contested sexual politics of the time, and how individual bodies became included or excluded from the beach, depending on how they were sexualized, gendered, racialized, and classed. This not only provides a good introduction to the historical development of Australian beach culture. The example of the beach also makes the works of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler and their particular notions of gender trouble, here 'beach trouble', and governmentality accessible to a wider readership. The book provides a good introduction for students and other people interested in these topics.

Christine Metusela is an early career researcher currently conducting research for Neuroscience Research Australia and the University of New South Wales on projects funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council that address key questions about Aboriginal health and ageing and improving service provision for early onset dementia. Her PhD thesis explored social geographies of the beach. In particular, it focused on the transformations of the social relationships that forged the Illawarra beaches in NSW, Australia as a leisure and tourism space.

Gordon Waitt is Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales. He is part of a larger team of researchers at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER). His research interests include gender, sexuality, place, cultures and tourism. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters he co-authored Introducing Human Geography (Longman-Pearson Education Australia, 2000) and Gay Tourism: Culture and Context (Haworth Press, 2006).

Introduction: Stripping Off
Chapter 1. Sex in Private: 'Bathing in Perfection'
Chapter 2. The Public Bathing Reserve: Disciplining the 'Insatiable Desire to Pose on the Sands'
Chapter 3. Rail and Car Mobilities: Technologies of Movement and Touring the Sublime
Chapter 4. The 'Brighton of Australia' becomes the 'Sheffield of the South': Knowledge, Power and the Production of an 'Industrial Heartland' in an 'Earthly Paradise'
Chapter 5. 'Battle for Honours': Surf Lifesavers, Masculinity, Performativity and Spatiality
Chapter 6. Making Bathing 'Modern'

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate
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