This article examines the tension between British and Egyptian counterterrorism discourses and Western tourism industry discourses. I analyse how guidebooks like the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet attract tourists by representing Egypt as an appealing tourist destination in a way that accounts for its positioning, in counterterrorism discourses, as a location and source of terrorism. They do so by producing ‘risk’ in a very specific way. Guidebook representations construct one extreme of Egyptian society as ‘bad’ Muslims who pose an essential threat to Western tourists and their inherently progressive liberal democratic values. Having defined risk in this way, guidebooks justify the production of ‘states of exception’ and ‘exceptional states’ that exclude ‘bad’ Muslims and protect Western tourists. These strategies function together to construct Egypt as non-threatening and appealing to tourists. I argue that guidebooks not only account for terrorism but represent Egypt in a way that largely reinforces British and Egyptian ‘war on terror’ strategies. These strategies similarly protect subjects and spaces that uphold Western liberal democratic values. This article highlights the constitutive role of tourism in international politics and simultaneously helps us better understand the complex and mundane means by which the current Western liberal order is (re)produced.
(Online publication February 21 2012)
Elisa Wynne-Hughes is a PhD student at the University of Bristol. Her current research examines the international politics of tourism, focusing specifically on ‘contact zones’ in Cairo.
* I wish to acknowledge the valuable feedback I received on this article from L. L. Wynn and two anonymous reviewers at the Review of International Studies. This article was also greatly enriched by comments from and discussions with Cerelia Athanassiou, Terrell Carver, Amanda Chisholm, Ryerson Christie, Lara Coleman, Vivian Ibrahim, Melanie Richter-Montpetit, Joanna Tidy, Jutta Weldes, Antonia Wynne-Hughes, and Susan Wynne-Hughes. My research for this article was funded by the UK Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme and the University of Bristol.