This post is super rough because I really don’t have answers to many of these questions yet, I just wanted to put them up because I think they are important to think about. They were inspired by a documentary piece shown at Museo Reina Sofia, unfortunately the name was not posted anywhere I saw. The documentary explained the topics of Spanish stereotypes in more depth, putting them into a context they are rarely afforded (i.e. “Spain is all party, all the time” “they only eat paella” “they can barely function” etc.)
Interviews with tourists to Spain set off the exhibit: when asked about Francisco Franco, the Fascist former dictator of Spain (1939-1975!!): “I try not to think about politics when I’m on vacation,” “I’m just here for the sun,” “it’s a shame about him, but the weather is so great,” “I’m not here for politics”
Is tourist a dirty word?
How can tourists reconcile their desire for a vacation with the very real implications their tourist money has for other countries?
For me, this has implications as tourism opens more and more to Americans in Cuba
Is it irresponsible to disregard the political reality of the places we travel to?
If so, what must travelers do to travel responsibly?
Next, there was an explanation of the party culture of Valencia, Spain in the early 1980’s, a huge party scene that seemed to never rest. The video explained much of this desire to celebrate to excess came in response to the fall of the Fascist/oppressive dictatorship in 1975, though many foreigners just took it as indicative of the loose morals of Spaniards, using it as an opportunity to party to excess while on holiday.
When tourists take aspects of culture like this out of context, they portray a nation and a culture much more extreme than reality. What implications does this have for the idea of authenticity when travelling?
Can travelers ever have an authentic experience?
What does authentic mean in that context?
What is the goal of having an authentic experience?
What are the consequences of not seeking out authenticity if it does exist?
Finally, there was the story of a man well connected in the Franco government who got out of murder charges just based on his connections. He was almost certainly guilty.
How should outsiders approach the negative aspects of a country’s history or culture without implying their own superiority or moral righteousness?
Are there certain things that are wrong everywhere and how do we determine what these are?
Must we be more delicate in countries that are frequently looked down upon by the global North as somewhat of an intervention?
What effects can activism by foreigners have on other countries, both positive and negative?
Overall, the exhibit made me think about my role in Spain as a visitor and the effect travelers can have without even realizing it. We have a delicate role, perhaps with many responsibilities.