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Exotic endurance: Tourism, fitness and the Marathon des Sables

Lisle, Debbie

Environment and planning. D. Society & space. Volume 34:Number 2 (2016); pp 263-281 -- SAGE Publications Ltd

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  • Title:
    Exotic endurance: Tourism, fitness and the Marathon des Sables
  • Author: Lisle, Debbie
  • Found In: Environment and planning. D. Society & space. Volume 34:Number 2 (2016); pp 263-281
  • Journal Title: Environment and planning. D. Society & space
  • Subjects: Sciences sociales--Périodiques; Human ecology--Periodicals; Human geography--Periodicals; Social sciences--Periodicals; Spatial behavior--Periodicals; Ruimtelijke ordening; Periodicals; Social sciences; Tourism--fitness--postcolonial--biopolitical--neoliberalism--Marathon des Sables; Dewey: 304.2305
  • Rights: legaldeposit
  • Publication Details: SAGE Publications Ltd
  • Abstract:

    This paper critically examines the intersections of global tourism and fitness in the Marathon des Sables, an annual ultramarathon in the Sahara desert in which over a thousand athletes run the equivalent of five marathons in six days. It demonstrates how the globalization of health and fitness resonates with familiar Western productions of exotic cultures for the purposes of tourist consumption. Of particular interest here is how established colonial asymmetries are recast in a neoliberal context as runners test their resilience, endurance and strength against an 'extreme' Saharan landscape. While the paper calls attention to these asymmetries, it is more concerned with troubling reductive colonial encounters in order to reveal their instability, heterogeneity and ambivalence. Indeed, the central conceit of the Marathon des Sables – that superior Western fitness regimes and technologies will dominate the race – is inverted by the overwhelming success of Moroccan runners and disaggregated by the biopolitical regulation of elite running bodies. These unexpected intersections of global tourism and fitness demand further attention because they reconfigure our received notions of who (and what) is capable of exerting agency in postcolonial encounters.


  • Identifier: System Number: LDEAvdc_100064335798.0x000001; Journal ISSN: 0263-7758; 10.1177/0263775815613094
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Physical Description: Electronic
  • Shelfmark(s): ELD Digital store

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