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Urban tourism via dispossession of oeuvres

Labor as a common denominator

Marc Morell

Keywords: accumulation by dispossession; anthropology of tourism; collective labor; commons; cultural heritage; oeuvres

Most of the anthropology of tourism has focused either on authenticity or on the commoditization of culture. Furthermore, tourism has been looked at as a service sector and, at most, as an urban strategy. Few authors have investigated the organization of (in)formal labor in the tourism industry outside the wage form. I address this gap by looking at the living and dead labor that the production of cultural heritage is about. I argue that the tourism industry transforms long-labored spaces and existing collective use values into commodities. After illustrating this argument with sketches from the Ciutat de Mallorca (Balearic Islands, Spain), I conclude that the relation between the dead labor and the living labor that produce heritage determines people’s differential access to its commoditized outcome.

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