The authors and editors of the guide appear to have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the tourist angle. It is not that the guidebook focuses only on the pragmatic aspects of Florida's economic development; it has its share of its epic historical passages and imaginative, colorful anecdotes. Tourism is, rather, figured within a larger schema of cultural contact and conquest. The first essay of the guide, entitled "Contemporary Scene," (this was a requirement for all the state guides), establishes this course within the very first paragraph:

click on image to see passage in its context...look for the red arrow

The modern-day tourist is equated with the colonial conquistador in his intention and ultimate effect: to conquer and to enrich the already fertile and enduring Florida cultural landscape. Florida is set up as pluralist haven of native and foreign influences.

With the "latest Pennsylvanian in his Buick" having been thus inserted into the historical lineage of conquerors, the meaning of the category "tourist" is changed. The authors have assimilated and abstracted it into the more expansive heading of "visitor," under which all kinds of migrants, temporary and permanent, can be placed.

click on image to see passage in its context...look for the red arrow

Obviously, migratory agricultural laborers do not come to the muck lands of Lake Okeechobee for the same reasons as do rich northerners who patronize Palm Beach. And that seems to be something the authors are acknowledging, with their reference to conflicting visions of Florida and a working-class struggle for existence. Not everyone is considered a visitor; black turpentine workers, for example, face the "unvarying" life of the permanent resident. And yet a parallel is drawn between people as different as a laborer from Tennessee and a Tin Can tourist. By grouping these different types of "visitors" together, what are the authors accomplishing? One has to admit it's an imaginative literary device. (It's almost the type of contrivance a modern-day cultural studies scholar would suggest, while obsessively qualifying it, in the midst of an argument about migrancy).



Juliet Gorman, May 2001