A spirited critique of the cultural politics of sightseeing. Or, why we are all tourists who hate tourists
We’ve all been tourists at some point in our lives. How is it we look so condescendingly at people taking selfies in front of the Tower of Pisa? Is there really much to distinguish the package holiday from hipster city-breaks to Berlin or Brooklyn? Why do we engage our free time in an activity we profess to despise?
The World in a Selfie dissects a global cultural phenomenon. For Marco D’Eramo, tourism is not just the most important industry of the century, generating huge waves of people and capital, calling forth a dedicated infrastructure, and upsetting and repurposing the architecture and topography of our cities. It also encapsulates the problem of modernity: the search for authenticity in a world of ersatz pleasures.
D’Eramo retraces the grand tours of the first globetrotters – from Francis Bacon and Samuel Johnson to Arthur de Gobineau and Mark Twain – before assessing the cultural meaning of the beach holiday and the ‘UNESCO-cide’ of major heritage sites. The tourist selfie will never look the same again.