Current Research

In June 2023. I finished Interrogating Travel: Guidance from a Reluctant Tourist. It is a first-person book of creative nonfiction. A mere 11% of the planet’s population has the funds or will to travel internationally. In a sort of fish-don’t-know-they’re wet myopia, we travelers and tourists, oblivious of our privilege, rarely register the harm to climate, ecologies, and other peoples caused by our footloose ways. Some citizens are starting to talk back.

  • In 2017, the New York Times reported, Americans need take only one round-trip flight between New York and California to produce about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases their cars annually generate. Three billion U.S. passengers hop on 20,000 planes every year – numbers projected to double by mid-century. Carbon dioxide generated by every traveler may be measured by the metric ton.
  • In 2018, the Oxford Dictionary admitted “overtourism” and shortlisted it for Word of the Year. That year, too, the Swedish people coined flygskam, for “flight shame,” to mortify themselves into thinking twice before they fly.
  • On July 29, 2019, the New Yorker featured a gigantic man and woman tramping a miniature planet. The couple’s shoes dwarf the countryside, squashing villages, roads, and landscapes. People seen below them flee.
  • In August 2019, teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg sailed from Sweden to New York on an emissions-free solar yacht to address the U.N. General Assembly and the Climate Action Summit.
  • In June 2023, University of Chicago philosophy professor Agnes Collard spelled out “The Case Against Travel” in The New Yorker.
  • Scholar Sara Ahmed has written, “The idealisation of movement, or transformation of movement into a fetish, depends upon the exclusion of others who are already positioned as not free in the same way.”

In the course of visiting the Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, France, French Polynesia, Hawai’i, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, and Thailand, I have come to regard travel as the largest and most poorly regulated industry on the planet. In France I have delivered these three presentations:

  • “Thinking Like a River,” Ecopoetics Perpignan, Perpignan, France, June 23, 2016.
  • “The Contested Grounds of North American Rodeo.” Center for Western U.S. Asia/Pacific Studies. Sorbonne Université Paris. Nov. 12, 2004.
  • An Iconography of Sabotage.” Center for Western U.S. and Asia/Pacific Studies. Sorbonne Université Paris. November 8, 2002.