A History of Tourism: From Grand Tours to Gap Years with Pascal Ansell - Context Travel

A History of Tourism: From Grand Tours to Gap Years with Pascal Ansell


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Tourism, the world's biggest service economy, can be charted back to 18th century Britain. In the form of the Grand Tour, aristocratic English youth visited sites of antiquity in France and Italy, instilling a culture that encouraged curiosity, as well as outright hedonism. Join cultural historian Pascal Ansell as we ramble through the history of our travel habits in Europe, examining our well-trodden circuits before and after the ages of steam and rail.

In the Victorian period, package tourism emerged in the combination of the railways and a particularly fervent Baptist. Taking his clients to temperance rallies in 1840s Britain, Thomas Cook hit upon a booming business, and before long pioneered affordable excursions which set the whole globe within its sights.

Tourism is a lens through which a country sees and literally "re-presents" itself. With this in mind, we will arrive in Portugal's dictatorial period, wherein the 1940s we see tourism used for propaganda purposes, shoring up national identity in a strikingly similar way to the tourism promotion in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. António Ferro, Portugal's propaganda secretary, creates a peculiar form of internal tourism, before the advent of cheap flights and open borders. Portuguese workers were encouraged to visit the country's plentiful beaches, yet on arrival were confronted with stringent rules on beachwear etiquette and conduct.

Our final stop-off will find us in the present day, exploring the modern phenomenon of the Gap Year. This may not be so novel at all, as we see a form of the excursion which echoes the medieval pilgrimage, both a form of endeavor which puts the ‘travail’ back in 'travel'.

Led by an expert on cultural history, Pascal Ansell, this interactive seminar will examine the pursuit of destinations throughout European history. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a deeper appreciation for a privilege that we are lucky enough to enjoy today.

Born in Oxford, UK, to an Anglo-Belgian family, Pascal graduated with a first-class B.A. honors in English & Music after studying in Leeds and Berlin. Based in Lisbon, he is interested in the history of the commonplace elements within everyday life. He has published about and taught a wide range of cultural histories, from coffee to wine consumption in Europe, to medieval and early modern Portuguese history, as well as the 'permanent street art' of Portugal's tiles and cobblestones. Pascal also lectures on art theory and philosophy, developing concepts surrounding 'sub-realism' and aesthetically-engaged mysticisms. He has performed across Europe and released music under various labels in the UK, Poland, and Portugal.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.