Over the last few decades, the island of Lesvos (North Aegean, Greece) has become a stepping-stone in migrants’ routes to Europe, attracting volunteer tourism aimed at providing support to migrants. Using the theoretical frame of Lefebvre’s triad, we investigate if and how the island is a lived space for volunteer tourists, what representations of this space they carry and their specific spatial practices not just as volunteers, but as tourists. Through a survey, semi-structured interviews and participant observation, we illustrate the discrepancy between the symbolism associated with the representation of Lesvos and the direct experience volunteers have of the insular space. Nonetheless, some places in the capital Mytilene are characterized by spatialised lived experiences for volunteers, locals and migrants.

In recent decades, the island of Lesvos (North Aegean, Greece) has become a stepping stone on migrants’ routes to Europe, attracting volunteer tourism aimed at providing support to migrants. Using the theoretical framework of Lefebvre’s triad, we investigate Lesvos as a lived space for volunteer tourists, the representations of the island space they carry and their spatial practices not only as volunteers but also as tourists. The choice of where to go to volunteer depends upon wider geopolitical context, and volunteers’ destinations (e.g. reception centres) are, stricto sensu, their working spaces. Nevertheless, during their free time, volunteers leave these spaces; specifically, we investigate this dimension of their experience. Through a survey, interviews and participant observation, we illustrate how volunteer tourists imbue the space of Lesvos with symbolic meanings, thus confirming their role in the humanitarian borderscape of the island; we further examine the ways in which they challenge the preconceived imaginaries of the island. Concurrently, we show how in specific places in the island’s capital Mytilene, the lived experience of volunteers creates deep connections between volunteers, migrants and locals, to the point that some spaces are co-produced or deeply transformed by the presence and practices of volunteers.

Volunteer Tourism and Lived Space. Representations and Experiences from Lesvos.

Cavallo F. L.;DI MATTEO, GIOVANNA
2020

Abstract

Over the last few decades, the island of Lesvos (North Aegean, Greece) has become a stepping-stone in migrants’ routes to Europe, attracting volunteer tourism aimed at providing support to migrants. Using the theoretical frame of Lefebvre’s triad, we investigate if and how the island is a lived space for volunteer tourists, what representations of this space they carry and their specific spatial practices not just as volunteers, but as tourists. Through a survey, semi-structured interviews and participant observation, we illustrate the discrepancy between the symbolism associated with the representation of Lesvos and the direct experience volunteers have of the insular space. Nonetheless, some places in the capital Mytilene are characterized by spatialised lived experiences for volunteers, locals and migrants.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3715451
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