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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 2, 2015

Shaping subjects of globalisation: at the intersection of voluntourism and the new economy

Kati Dlaske
From the journal Multilingua

Abstract

Volunteer tourism is one of the latest branches of the ever expanding globalised tourism. The initiative Workaway, an expression of this trend, was established in the late 90s with the aim of promoting “cultural understanding between different peoples and lands throughout the world”. The figure of the workawayer as a new cosmopolitan subjectivity started to take shape. With the growth of the tourism industry, the Workaway scheme has started to be of interest also to tourism entrepreneurs, especially in the global peripheries such as northern Lapland, home to the indigenous minority language community of the Sámi. By signing up as a volunteer in a heritage tourism resort, the workawayer, the cultural adventurer, becomes linked up to the network of the globalised new economy. Drawing on aspects of governmentality studies, discourse studies and ethnographic approaches, this study traces the translocal formation of the figure of the workawayer through two crucial technologies of subjectification: the Internet portal workaway.info and the actuality of everyday work in a Sámi heritage tourist resort in northernmost Finnish Lapland. Although the Workaway initiative positions itself as non-capitalist if not anti-capitalist, the study shows how the workawayer is gradually shaped to meet the requirements of the contemporary neoliberal world of work. If Workaway offers new languages and cultures with a flavour of romanticised multiculturalism, in the tourist resort actual encounters are governed by straightforward market rationality. Here, languages are valued as skills among others, but not above others, since ultimately “you don’t necessarily need any language for money transactions”.

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Published Online: 2015-9-2
Published in Print: 2016-7-1

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