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Jack Albert Nusenow

Romanticizing Foreignness

Progym: Narrative

Urry places an emphasis on the visual arm of capitalist tourism advertising as he weaves his arguments together. We have come a long way since Petrarch, and though our history is riddled with colonialism, I don’t believe our reasons for traveling are simply to subject those foreign settings we visit to our own visual interpretation.

I found value in Urry’s breakdown of the different types of the Tourist Gaze and especially related to the idea of the romantic gaze.

In 2015 I visited Rome. While there, I visited all of the places Urry would say that I was told to, but my love and lasting memories of that trip can’t be found in the Colosseum or even any of the pictures I took.

My most valuable memory is sitting in a restaurant whose name I still haven’t forgotten. Cafe Belsiana is tucked away on a small street conveniently called Via Belsiana. As I sat eating bread and pasta, from the very moment I had sat down, I watched an old man drink his espresso, read a magazine, and walk out happy. This memory is what drives my persistent want to travel, but I couldn’t help but feel defensive when I read Urry’s essay. Would he describe this experience as visual appropriation? In my mind, I was captivated by the romantic gaze. But does this make me a tourist in that restaurant inherently? I’ve looked at people in American bars drinking cocktails in the same way.┬áIs this gaze, this moment, really colonizing as Urry says it is? Or is it the inescapable colonialist history that is present wherever we travel?

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