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MUSICultures. Special issue J. Roda and M. Desroches, vol.43, n°2.


This special issue of MUSICultures investigates the territorial, social, economic, and educational challenges as well as underlying policies in the development of tourism through music. Specifically, the authors explore the methods of researching tourism beyond the paradigm of the “simulacra”, to understand its role in the renewal, enhancement, and transformation of musical practices.


If, in the past, tourism has been treated as negative and disruptive in terms of traditional musical practices, the authors in this publication believe that they must relativize this understanding of tourism and instead analyze tourism development as a contemporary reality that meets specific and complex needs. From this perspective, they treat the touristification of musical practice as a social fact involving not only economics and aesthetics, but also political, educational, social, and cultural stakes, not to mention identity politics. Indeed, before anything else, tourism involves actors recognizing and representing their musical heritage, and, more specifically, what they want to reveal of themselves, to tourists. The touristic space becomes a dynamic interface between actors of local cultural expressions and tourists, a space for the production of a narrative and discourse on identity that crystallizes the experiences of visitors and actors of a visited culture who come into contact with one another. In addition, the authors consider the touristic space to be more than merely a place for observation, but rather a place for experience involving the transformation and construction of the identities of both visitors and the visited. In their approaches, the authors in this issue draw on the tools of anthropology, ethnomusicology, sociology, tourism and urban studies, and communication. 

Overall, this special issue has been designed and developed as a means to reflect on the usefulness of ethnographies of musical tourism experiences. As all the contributions illustrate, the ethnographic method, and fieldwork more generally, can highlight the complex negotiations taking place around the development of intangible culture, such as musical practices, for tourism purposes. Indeed, these studies emphasize, among other issues, the complex interaction between tourism stakeholders at different levels (musicians, dancers, politicians, association members) and consumers of tourism; as well as the sometimes surprising, contradictory, or unexpected effects of cultural, social, political, economic, or educational interventions. Across all the studies presented, we find that the dynamics of representing identity to tourists through the arts are multi-faceted, evoking a multitude of experiences in which the relationship with oneself and with the other is constantly being negotiated.

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