Dr. Douglas Tewksbury, associate professor of communication and media studies at Niagara University, along with four undergraduate student researchers and his research associate, Dr. Christine Quail, associate professor of communication at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, presented their work on “Disappearing Landscapes: Theorizing ‘last-chance’ tourism and media discourses,” at “Extraction: Tracing the Veins,” a virtual conference held June 29 – July 10, 2020.

Their paper theorizes the concept of “last-chance tourism,” the practice where tourists explicitly seek out natural phenomena that are disappearing as the result of global climate change or environmental loss, such as vanishing landscapes or seascapes, or endangered wildlife or habitats. With a particular attention on the discourses of Arctic and Antarctic tour operators and tourism agencies, the paper argues that last-chance tourism represents a troubling strategy of ecological, human, and financial extractivism, where the very practices that have had negative effects on the environment—the huge carbon output of travel and human visitation, in particular—are accelerated and hasten the demise of both species and environment.

Dr. Tewksbury, Dr. Quail, and the four students—Liam Cuddy, Michel DePietro, Brittany Rosso, and Claire Wanzer— worked individually on their parts of the presentation, which were then assembled into a video that was viewed during the conference.

“Last-chance tourism is a thing that I encountered in my own media consumption and my own travels,” Dr. Tewksbury said. “It was inspired by environmental humanities research that had taken me to several glaciers, seeing the way that the glacial retreat was being used as a marketing strategy, and expanding my research from there. The discussions and examples brought forward by my students and the academic and theoretical thinking they brought to the table made this project come together. They were extremely smart, hard-working, interesting peers on this project, who found such interesting cases and brought a great deal of knowledge, open-mindedness, and enthusiasm to this study.”

“Extraction: Tracing the Veins,” a nearly carbon-neutral conference, was hosted by Massey University, New Zealand, and Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands.