BLACK IS NOT AS BEAUTIFUL: GENDER, SEXUALITY AND TOURISM IN PANAMA

Carla Guerrón Montero

Abstract


In spite of its centrality, the 'body' has remained surprisingly sparse from the corpus of tourism studies in the social sciences. Recent work has focused on the tourist gaze as gendered, sexualized and ethnicized, exposing the often implicit masculine possessor of this gaze. This article studies the host's gaze as produced partly as a result of returning the tourist gaze. I argue that Afro-Antillean men and women in the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro (Panama) produce embodied gazes that result from historical constructs as well as from returning the gazes of those of the recent constant wave of tourists landing on their shores. I discuss how male and female bodies are conceptualized in the Archipelago as repositories of moral values; how gender, race, and class intersect in the production of these conceptualizations; and how these interpretations connect in harmonious and conflicting ways with tourism development in the region.