Skip to main content

Hospitality & tourism in the age of extremes: A biopolitical lens


Mobilities Research Area, Bauman Institute, University of Leeds

Bauman Institute logo

Title: Hospitality & tourism in the age of extremes: A biopolitical lens

Venue: Online event (symposium)

When: Apr 27, 2023 12:00 PM London

Register in advance for this meeting: 

Organiser: Rodanthi Tzanelli

Theme: As both an absolute norm and a context-based practice, hospitality has evolved into a field nestled within a network of other scholarly fields, including those of tourism and migration. This symposium invites participants to critically deliberate on hospitable and inhospitable forms of mobility for human populations and natural environments in our hypermobile age.

The symposium’s presenters are asked to reflect on the relevance of biopolitical approaches to hospitality in the dawn of a new and difficult century. The 21st century is characterised by extreme conditions that threaten multispecies existence and human societies alike: it presents all the features we associate with ‘extreme’ events. Eric Hobsbawm (1994) first spoke of ‘The Age of Extremes’ to unpack the disastrous failures of state socialism, capitalism, and nationalism. Yet, his sceptical take on viable solutions and an oblique approach to popular and public culture, left little space for a sustainable approach to hopeful futures. In Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in the Age of Extremes Mimi Sheller (2018) uses a political economic spyglass to address current planetary priorities. We are in the midst of a global climate crisis and experiencing the extreme challenges of urbanization, she states. Aside from the obvious problems of climate change, the breakdown of social order in regions of the Global South and North alike, a rise in fundamentalist anti-immigration sentiment and the capitalist destruction of ecospheres and socio-spheres in favour of profit-making, continue to threaten planetary futures.

However, unlike Hobsbawm, Sheller (2020) sees hope for a better future (or better futures) in the ways scholars, artistic communities and grassroots networks address such current problems through tacit forms of activism and the cultivation of critical pedagogies alike. Such communities are mobile in physical and virtual styles, suggesting that different types of travel movement are ultimately the modus operandi of hope against extremism. Her approach posits broader questions regarding two and at times competing interpretations of biopolitics: one addressing the management and institutional control of populations and thus human and non-human life (which may produce inhospitable conditions – Minca, 2007, 2010), and another proclaiming the formation of collaborative socialities with viable future-orientated projects (Tzanelli, 2022a & 2022b; Salazar, 2022). Such projects can both challenge harmful ‘regimes of that manifest in migration mobility’ (Salazar & Glick Schiller, 2016) and tourism alike (Lapointe et al. 2019; Lapointe et al., 2020) and propose new styles of ‘network hospitality’ (Germann Molz, 2014) and new forms of togetherness.

Taking this bifurcated approach to biopolitics as a starting point, the presenters reflect on their own approaches to hospitality and tourism in the age of extremes. Addressing questions of the future of tourism amidst debates upon the digital vanishing of the guest and the host, and the biopolitics and geopolitics of tourism, they set a new blended agenda on critical tourism-with-hospitality studies.


Germann Molz, J. (2014). Toward a network hospitality, First Monday, 19(3). DOI 10.5210/fm.v19i3.4824

Hobsbawm, E. (1994). The age of extremes. London: Abacus.

Lapointe, D., Lebon, C. and Guillemard, A. (2019). Space in transformation: Public versus private climate change adaptation in peripheral coastal tourism areas—Case studies from Quebec, Canada. International Journal of Tourism Research, pp.1–14. DOI: https://

Lapointe, D., Sarrasin, B. and Lagueux, J. (2020). Management, biopolitics and foresight: what looks for the future of the world? Teoros [Online]. Available at: (accessed: 1 February 2022).

Minca, C. (2007). Agamben’s geographies of modernity. Political Geography, 26, 78-97.

Minca, C. (2010). The island: Work, tourism and the biopolitical. Tourist Studies, 9(2), 88–108.

Salazar, N. (2022). Anthropologies of the present and the presence of anthropology. Etnografia, 16(2), 6-24. doi 10.31250/2618-8600-2022-2(16)-6-24.

Salazar, N.B. and Schiller, N.G. (2013). Regimes of mobility across the globe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39(2), 183-200.

Sheller, M. (2018). Mobility justice. London: Verso.

Sheller, M. (2020). Island futures. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Tzanelli, R. (2022a). Biopolitics in critical tourism theory: A radical critique of critique (La biopolitique dans la théorie critique du tourisme: Une critique radicale de la critique). Via: Tourism Review, 21 |le 23 October 2022.

Tzanelli, R. (2022b). Space, mobility and crisis in mega-event organisation. New York: Routledge.



Speakers & themes in order

  1. Noel Salazar, FSW, KU Leuven

Enduring hospitality: A planetary perspective

Theorizations about the Anthropocene have made us aware that biopolitics include the ways in which human activity is impacting the complex web of life on Earth. In such a more-than-human perspective, the concept of hospitality, which involves recognizing the inherent worth and value of ‘others’, refers to the ways in which we interact with and provide support and care for other living beings and the natural environment. Hospitality is about being a good steward of the planet and all the beings that inhabit it. This involves recognizing the interconnectedness and interdependence of all forms of life, and acting in ways that support and nurture the health and well-being of the natural world. It is about creating a sense of belonging and community that encompasses the entire biosphere. The principles of hospitality are a foundation for planetary conviviality, or the idea of creating a more harmonious and sustainable relationship between humans and the planet. While hospitality involves recognizing that we are all part of a larger community and that our actions have an impact on others, planetary conviviality takes this idea one step further by recognizing that the health and well-being of the natural world is essential for our own survival and prosperity.


  1. Dominic Lapointe, Université du Québec in Montréal

The biopolitics of tourism territories in the age of extremes: An illustration from the Québec’s pleasure peripheries in Canada

Biopolitics is sometimes understood as the move from power over territories towards the power to manage populations, breaking the link between localisation and organisation through the state of exception (Agamben, 1998). Tourism is an expression of this rupture, leisure mobility freeing the mobile subject from localisation while being reterritorialized through the destination, which refers to diverse and arbitrary territoriality along the provision of tourism experience and services. Territories are a complex entanglement at the intersection of lived space and structural forces, of fixity and mobility, of localisation and population. The conference presentation will explore the biopolitics of tourism territories through examples drawn from the pleasure periphery in Québec, Canada, with a focus on the post-pandemic recovery of the last three years.


Agamben, G. (1998). Homo Sacer. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


  1. Jennie Germann Molz, College of the Holy Cross, MA, USA

Guests without hosts: The digital biopolitics of network hospitality

When I proposed the concept of “network hospitality” (Germann Molz, 2014) nearly a decade ago, my intention was to register the social and spatial logics of mobile togetherness emerging around what were, at the time, relatively new forms of peer-to-peer hospitality exchange sites like Couchsurfing and Airbnb. In this presentation, I return to the idea of network hospitality as a mobile and digital form of life, this time bringing the lens of biopolitics with me to explore the intersections of platform capitalism, algorithmic governance, and the ethics of hospitality. I focus that lens on one of the five features I originally observed in network hospitality: the phenomenon of guests without hosts.

The phrase “guests without hosts” conjures a range of images that are devastatingly suited to this age of extremes, from travelers stranded by disasters and pandemics to unwelcome strangers at the border to the parasitic hyperconsumption of overtourism. Informed by Tzanelli’s reference to a “bifurcated approach to biopolitics” in Sheller’s (2018) work on mobility justice, I read the concept of guests without hosts from two different directions (and see Tzanelli, 2022). On the one hand, it refers to an inhospitable form of institutional and algorithmic governance. On the other hand, it is a potential model of collaborative sociality through which we might imagine and enact alternative futures. I illustrate these perspectives with two additional images of guests without hosts – the absent Superhost (Roelofsen & Minca, 2018; Pennell, 2021) and the mobile neighbor (Veijola & Falin, 2016) – to consider the digital biopolitics involved in visibilizing, (self-)disciplining, and erasing hosts and host-guest relations.


Germann Molz, J. (2014). Toward a network hospitality, First Monday, 19(3). DOI 10.5210/fm.v19i3.4824

Pennell, S. (2021). Airbnb and the paradox of the body: The biopolitical management of hosts in four tourist towns in New Zealand, Journal of Sociology, 58(4): 445 –461.

Roelofsen, M. & Minca, C. (2018). The Superhost. Biopolitics, home and community in the Airbnb dream-world of global hospitality, Geoforum, 91: 170–181.

Sheller, M. (2018). Mobility justice. New York: Verso Books.

Tzanelli, R. (2022). Biopolitics in critical tourism theory: A radical critique of critique, Via: Tourism Review, 21. DOI:

Veijola, S. & Falin, P. (2016). Mobile neighbouring, Mobilities, 11(3): 382-399. DOI: 10.1080/17450101.2014.936715


  1. Claudio Minca, University of Bologna, Italy

Deliberating on hospitality/tourism biopolitics: A discussant’s perspective



Programme (27 April 2023)

12:00 - 12:00: Welcome (Rodanthi Tzanelli)

12:20 – 13:00: Enduring hospitality: A planetary perspective. (NOEL SALAZAR, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Leuven, Belgium)

13:00 – 13:10: Questions

13:10-13:50: The biopolitics of tourism territories in the age of extremes: An illustration from the Québec’s pleasure peripheries in Canada. (DOMINIC LAPOINTE, Department of Urban Studies and Tourism, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada)

13:50-14:00: Questions

14:00-14:20: Short break

14:20-15:00: Guests without hosts: The digital biopolitics of network hospitality. (JENNIE GERMANN MOLZ, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of the Holy Cross, MA, USA)

15:00-15:10: Questions

15:10-15:45: Deliberating on hospitality/tourism biopolitics: A discussant’s perspective. (CLAUDIO MINCA, Department of History and Cultures, University of Bologna, Italy)

15:45-16:00: General discussion