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Vision and viscosity in Goa's psychedelic trance scene

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2006
JournalACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies
Journal number2
Volume4
Number of pages22
Pages172-193
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article tries to conceive what difference vision makes in organising different bodies in the rave tourism scene of Goa in southern India. Drawing on participant observations, the differentiation of bodies is conceived through the concept of ‘viscosity’. With some help of Deleuze and Guattari, viscosity will allow me to discuss the non-subjective, self-organising but dynamic orderings in space and time of brown and white, male and female, rich and poor. Human bodies are not billiard balls, however. I also investigate the negotiations and ethics involved in the practical dealings with otherness. In contrast to much of the reception of Deleuze and Guattari in Anglophone geography, therefore, the concept of viscosity stresses the materialist understanding of social aggregation that they advocate, not simply their insistence on open-endedness and flux. Three sites within Goa’s rave scene will be explored, each highlighting an aspect of its visual economy. Firstly, the popular bars show how architecture contributes to the pigeonholing of bodies; secondly, the beach shows that bodies actively perform rituals of touristic encounter; lastly, at the mystical moment of sunrise at the raves, the profoundly ethical complications of this particular theater of globalisation and counterculture become painfully apparent.