Skip to main content


New Publication: ‘Governing Through Garbage-City Tourism: Producing International Neoliberal Subjects’

9 February 2015

Our very own Elisa Wynne-Hughes has recently published an article in the journal, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. The article can be found here but in the meantime, the abstract for the article is below:

“In this essay I examine ‘ethical’ western tourism in Garbage-City, Cairo, to demonstrate how contemporary international governance works through everyday practices in ‘non-western’ tourism destinations. To do so, I use ethnography and discourse analytic methods to analyse the ways in which tourism practices at this site regulate the conduct of individuals by shaping the subject positions of ‘western tourists’ and ‘Garbage-City residents’. I found that, on Garbage-City tours, western tourists were positioned as worldly in their unique knowledge of the ‘real’ Cairo and responsible in their support for the free-market recycling innovations of Garbage-City residents. Tourists were defined in relation to Garbage-City residents who were represented as marginalized, authentically local entrepreneurs. Drawing on governmentality and postcolonial approaches, I argue that western tourism practices in Garbage-City function as a technology of governance that reinforces neoliberal rationalities by naturalizing market-based environmental initiatives. Meanwhile, they obscure the ways that international and Egyptian neoliberal practices, in which tourists are complicit, have increased the marginalization of Garbage-City residents. The tour therefore functions less to teach tourists about the complex context of Garbage-City and more to shape the standards and means for individuals to become ‘good’ international neoliberal subjects who develop and fulfil themselves according to market logics. Western tourism and neoliberal practices in this contact zone ultimately define and privilege these international neoliberal subjects in relation to ‘others’. Studying western tourism therefore helps us understand how the co-positioning of western tourists and Garbage-City residents reproduces neoliberal forms of power that perpetuate (post)colonial asymmetries and exclusions.”