An Interview with Lee Jolliffe

With her book Sugar Heritage and Tourism in Transition out this week we asked Lee Jolliffe a few questions about her research.

What inspired you to study sugar and tourism?
Working and living in Barbados, still somewhat a plantation society, provided some impetus to move on from tea and tourism, as well as coffee and tourism, to sugar and tourism as a research focus.

Which other researchers in your field do you particularly admire?
Greg Richards is a researcher whose work I like in terms of exploring cultural tourism and the creative side of tourism with cities in Europe – he always seems to be doing something new and interesting. I also admire Dallen Timothy’s research on heritage tourism for its breadth and exploration of under researched areas, such as shopping and tourism and cross-border tourism.

Did the controversial topics of slavery and colonialism make this book more difficult to research?
Yes, a few years ago I could never have imagined taking topics such as enslavement and post-colonialism as subjects for my research. However, a number of events and experiences while I was at the University of the West Indies in Barbados during 2010 – 2011 informed my views on the topic through first hand experience living in a post-colonial society. Through my time in the West Indies and reflecting upon this time and experience after that back in Canada, I think I was able to recognize the underbelly of what John Urry (1990) calls the tourism gaze. While the tourism gaze is superficial, the underbelly is the meanings and the stories, many of them dark and bittersweet (as described by Elizabeth Abbott in her book Sugar: A Bittersweet History) behind sugar heritage that is now to some extent being transformed for tourism. This has been echoed recently by reports from the African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT) 2012 conference in Barbados where the silence of the stories of enslavement was recognized as an area that needs to be considered in terms of the heritage tourism product.

What’s your favourite place that you’ve travelled to for your research?
Of course every place I visited in the Caribbean reflects part of the story, including Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Martinique, Trinidad, Tobago and Curacao. Particularly memorable sites visited in terms of sugar heritage include both Saint Nicholas Abbey and Codrington College in Barbados, the Sugar Heritage Village and Museum project in Trinidad and the Kura Hulanda Museum in Curacao.

What is your next research project?
I am currently working on a book on spices and tourism, also to be published by Channel View. I am also contemplating looking into tourism and bananas, it may sound funny but it’s quite a serious topic, as much about tourism and trade as about cuisine or attractions.

And finally, what is your favourite sugary treat?
I would have to say that “afternoon tea” and all that goes with it is one of my favourite sugary treats, a habit acquired while I did my PhD in museum studies in the UK Midlands I was able to explore afternoon tea along the old Fosse Way (Roman Road) from Leicester to the Cotswolds. In addition I do also very much like cappuccino with sugar, this goes back to a year spent in Florence studying museum science, a tradition that we are reinventing at home now that we have just acquired an espresso maker.

Sugar Heritage and Tourism in Transition belongs to our Tourism and Cultural Change series. Lee’s other titles Tea and Tourism and Coffee Culture, Destinations and Tourism are also available from our website.

Lee Jolliffe titles

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