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Seminar: Tourism and its critics

In this seminar, we will consider local responses to Caribbean tourism by examining A Small Place (1988, 1997), the (very) short literary work by the Antiguan-born writer, Jamaica Kincaid. It is a powerful and deliberately provocative critique that should generate a good debate.

Required reading

Everyone should read all of the following text - don't worry it is not very long:

Kincaid, Jamaica, A Small Place (London, 1988; 1997).

Please also spend some time exploring the website of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism. This provides examples of the type of tourist representations of which Kincaid is critical.

Questions to consider in advance

The best way to understand and appreciate a text like A Small Place is to discuss it with others in such a way that this remains firmly grounded in the text itself. In preparation, consider the following questions:

  • What is Jamaica Kincaid’s tone? What writing techniques does Kincaid use to try to get her message across?
  • Can you find three examples in the text where Kincaid uses hyperbole (deliberate exaggeration) to put her point across? In each case, how would you re-state in your own words the point you think she is trying to make.
  • How does reading A Small Place make you feel? Is the book addressed to you? Why (not)?
  • What is Kincaid’s attitude to tourism? Why does she feel this way?
  • Idealised visions of the Caribbean landscape form an important aspect of dominant tourist discourses of the region. How does Kincaid seek to subvert these?
  • In what ways does Kincaid attempt to challenge how foreign visitors and local residents are usually represented in tourist discourses?
  • What does Kincaid have to say on the relationship between the Caribbean today and the history of the region?

Further reading

Browdy de Hernandez, Jennifer (ed.), Women Writing Resistance: Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean (Cambridge, MA, 2003).

Lorah, P., ‘An unsustainable path: Tourism’s vulnerability to environmental decline in Antigua’ Caribbean Geography (1995) 6:1, pp. 28-39.

McLeod, Corinna, ‘Constructing a nation: Jamaica Kincaid's A Small PlaceSmall Axe (2008) 12: 1, pp. 77-92.

Weaver, D., ‘The evolution of a “plantation” tourism landscape on the Caribbean island of Antigua’ Tijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (1988) 79:5, pp. 319-331.

Mohammed, Patricia, Imaging the Caribbean: Culture and Visual Translation (Oxford: Macmillan, 2009), pp. 289-335.

See also the lecture reading list.