10213 - ¿Souvenir Babies:¿ Moral and Affective Economies in a Transnational Tourist Town in Costa Rica

In Caribbean Costa Rica, “souvenir babies” is a common idiom that speaks to the troubling commodification of the most treasured and non-pecuniary of kin relations through tourism. Directed at foreign women who bear children out of often fleeting transnational liaisons with local men, it is a critique of the economic privilege and mobility by which maternity and affective bonds (and citizenship) can seemingly be “bought” in local tourist economies and are transforming local cultural forms of kinship. However, on the other side, tourist women are seen to bring opportunities for a better life for local young men, who strategize in their aims to impregnate foreign girlfriends. Babies seen as “souvenirs” and “pathways to resources” are, in a sense, corporeal objects of moral and affective negotiations taking place in the context of global tourism, and the remaking of social organization in the 21st century through tourism economies.

Keywords: tourism; economics; transnational relations; affect

Author: Frohlick, Susan (University of Manitoba, Canada / Kanada)


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