Nature in Translation: Japanese Tourism Encounters the Canadian Rockies
The Co-Modification of Self
In the training sessions, guides were encouraged to construct unique and attractive personalities that matched the refreshing and soothing image of the Canadian Rockies and produced affects in tourists. The tourist economy conflated the moral virtues of sincerity and honesty with the economic value of a trustworthy guide as a commodity. Instead of seeing guides as victims, the chapter explores how the guide’s performative construction of subjectivity challenges the conventional notion of worker’s “freedom” in liberal economy, which assumes the existence of the autonomous and authentic self prior to the market interaction. Rather, the guides’ understanding of becoming a commodity reveals the tension inherent in the translation of “freedom”: the co-existence of jiyū, freedom or liberation in modern Western liberal thought, and jizai, derived from the Buddhist notion of liberation as self-detachment. The guide’s performative construction of their subjectivity elucidates the complex process of “commodification” of transnational service industry workers.