August 16, 2012
Why do so many travel guides make excuses for dictators?

There’s a formula to them: a pro forma acknowledgment of a lack of democracy and freedom followed by exercises in moral equivalence, various contorted attempts to contextualize authoritarianism or atrocities, and scorching attacks on the U.S. foreign policy that precipitated these defensive and desperate actions. Throughout, there is the consistent refrain that economic backwardness should be viewed as cultural authenticity, not to mention an admirable rejection of globalization and American hegemony. The hotel recommendations might be useful, but the guidebooks are clotted with historical revisionism, factual errors, and a toxic combination of Orientalism and pathological self-loathing.

Continue reading»

Why do so many travel guides make excuses for dictators?

There’s a formula to them: a pro forma acknowledgment of a lack of democracy and freedom followed by exercises in moral equivalence, various contorted attempts to contextualize authoritarianism or atrocities, and scorching attacks on the U.S. foreign policy that precipitated these defensive and desperate actions. Throughout, there is the consistent refrain that economic backwardness should be viewed as cultural authenticity, not to mention an admirable rejection of globalization and American hegemony. The hotel recommendations might be useful, but the guidebooks are clotted with historical revisionism, factual errors, and a toxic combination of Orientalism and pathological self-loathing.

Continue reading»

April 18, 2012
"The danger of following a guidebook—I found when I was writing them—was that you enter the little-known secret treasure mentioned in Let’s Go, to be greeted by 40 others, much like you, following the trail to that same secret, “little-known” treasure. And the book, like a camera, can come between you and a real experience of a place."

Pico Iyer

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »