Monday, 24 December 2018

Lasting Impressions: Ethnic Food Tour Guides and Body Work in Southwestern Sydney

Elaine Swan Rick Flowers First published: 26 April 2017 Sections Abstract In this paper we examine the racialized and gendered body work required of guides leading ethnic food tours in southwestern Sydney, Australia. We draw on theorists who examine the materialization of race and bodies to extend concepts of intimacy, vulnerability and proximity: dominant themes in studies of occupations involving ‘body work’. To date, very few studies of tour guides have examined the embodied interactions required by the work of guides. Using Ahmed's concepts of inter–embodiment and impressions, we stress that racialized bodies need to be understood as materializing in body work. In particular, we show how body work on the tours includes smiling, vocalization and shepherding and can be understood as contact with the Other. Our paper contributes to the literature on bodily interactions at work in three core ways: first, adding original empirical work on ethnic tour guiding, second, by showing how ‘body work’ is racialized and gendered, and finally, by exploring the relations between food and multicultural intimacies and the vulnerabilities of racialized bodies. Introduction In this paper we examine the racialized and gendered body work required of guides leading ethnic food tours in southwestern Sydney, Australia. In so doing, we explore how bodies are differentiated within conditions of vulnerability caused by racism and the constraints of ‘neoliberal intimacies’ (Ahmed as cited in Antwi et al., 2013). We draw on critical race theorists, critical because they problematize race as a foundational biological concept, seeing it as primarily material, political and cultural. Heralding from the civil rights movement and the work of black legal studies and feminist studies academics, critical race theory is an established inter‐disciplinary field which studies race‐making and racism. Critical race theorists vary in their understanding of racialization. In this paper, we draw on theorists who examine the materialization of race and bodies. These help extend concepts of intimacy, vulnerability and proximity: dominant themes in studies of occupations involving ‘body work’ (McDowell, 2009; Twigg et al., 2011; Wolkowitz, 2002, 2006). Our point of departure is how racism causes vulnerabilities that condition but do not determine embodied interactions at work (Ahmed, 2000; Lobo, 2014). Hence, colonial and racist pasts inflect but do not determine racialized encounters, with worker agency (Bunten, 2011) or unpredictability possible even in the face of structural racism (Ahmed, 2000). Our paper contributes to the literature on bodily interactions at work in three core ways: first, adding original empirical work on ethnic tour guiding, second, by showing how ‘body work’ is racialized and gendered, and finally, by exploring the relations between food and multicultural intimacies and the vulnerabilities of racialized bodies (Fortier, 2007; Lobo, 2014). To make our argument, we draw on ethnographic research on ethnic food tours in Bankstown, a neighbourhood subjected to structural racism and poverty, systematically disadvantaged for over 30 years (Gwyther, 2008). Successive waves of migrants and refugees settled in the area under traumatizing circumstances, many from Vietnam and Lebanon. The target of racist and Islamophobic media constructions about ‘ethnic’ violent crime and ‘ethnic’ gangs, Bankstown is portrayed as a ‘no‐go’ enclave for white Australians (Dreher, 2006; Poynting et al., 2004). Categories such as the ‘Arab’ and ‘Muslim’ are demonized in media reporting particularly in relation to racialized masculinity, and there is regular discrimination and violence towards people from these backgrounds. Right‐wing media commentators and politicians view southwestern Sydney as Australian multiculturalism ‘gone wrong’ (Dreher, 2006). As a response, The Benevolent Society, a large community service organization, established an ethnic food tour programme called Taste‐Tours, designed as a social enterprise to change racist perceptions and generate income for local ethnic food businesses and create jobs for residents. This structural context conditions the bodily interactions required of the guides. Tourists arrive with expectations and fantasies about Bankstown, ethnic food and racialized Others shaped by racist, colonial histories and exoticist Australian multicultural food culture (Flowers and Swan, 2015). Australian multiculturalism promotes the idea that eating the food of the Other marks the nation and individual eaters as tolerant and cosmopolitan but ignores the histories of racism and contemporary political claims of migrants (Parker, 2000; Hage, 1997). Even tourists to a domestic destination draw from colonialist, exoticist and ethnic food tourism tropes, and expect that race and gender will be performed bodily according to pre‐existing templates of ‘what is recognizably ethnic’ (Chow, 2002, p. 107; Bunten, 2011). The power of the ‘tourist gaze’ and labour market constraints mean that racially minoritized tour guides are expected to inhabit a friendly multicultural body and enable tourists to be happy in ways beyond the call of most service‐encounter work (Urry, 1990). While the guides have to mediate racist stereotypes in an abjected suburb, and reproduce happy multiculturalism at a time of intense Islamophobia and xenophobia in Australia, with its history of state‐sanctioned racism, at times they also disrupt expectations (Flowers and Swan, 2015; Bunten, 2011). In this context, bodily capacities to be seen as an ideal friendly service worker are unevenly distributed by race, class and gender, particularly for Muslim men and women (Tolia‐Kelly, 2009). Why Taste‐Tours? Taste‐Tours is a social enterprise with goals of income‐generation and anti‐racism, which means the guides perform complicated body and intimacy work. As feminists insist, tourism is an industry founded on embodiment and Othering (Johnston, 2001; Veijola and Jokinen, 2008; Veijola and Valtonen, 2007). At the time of our research, Taste‐Tours had run for four years and had extensive positive media coverage. Popular with residents from affluent suburbs, tours typically last half a day, across multiple suburbs. Running on weekends and evenings, tours are mainly multi‐ethnic, with titles such as ‘World Explorer’ and ‘Shanghai to Saigon’, cost AUD$90 per head and include visits to shops and restaurants. The guides, local residents aged between 30 and 50 and nearly all women, are from non‐Anglo‐Australian ethnic backgrounds — Lebanese, Chinese, Greek, Egyptian, Thai, Canadian and Pakistani. The guides are casual and part‐time. They explained that they like their work because its flexibility suits their caring commitments. Additionally, they like to share stories and tips about food and want to change the view of southwestern Sydney. Racially minoritized women and men from this area find gaining employment difficult because of racism. The guides have had varied careers with some returning to work after having children and others not able to continue their career as teachers or film‐makers in Australia. Per tour, the rate of pay is $250. Two guides take each tour. They provide tourists with information about the suburb and the businesses; give factual and entertaining information about food and culture; marshal the group to the shops, bakeries and restaurants on the tour; answer queries; keep the group on time; build group conviviality; and liaise with each business visited. Taste‐Tours are a form of ‘ethnic neighbourhood tourism’ capitalizing on the ‘ethnic’ or ‘cultural’ products of neighbourhoods as a form of urban regeneration (Santos et al., 2008; Degen 2008). ‘Touristified’ ethnic neighbourhoods are familiar to many … tourists and foreign visitors, usually as somewhat exotic and alien places that are quasi‐foreign, where interesting food can be found, exotic people can be observed, and even a lurking danger … can be sensed (Conforti, 1996, p. 831). Scholars debate the effects of such tourism, with many concerned that touristic regeneration of racially stigmatized suburbs amplifies racial stereotypes in the media. Tours create a desirable version of the Other as exotic, but safe and friendly, ’repackaging ethnicity‘ into an ‘exotic and inviting commodity’ [within a discourse] ‘celebratory of diversity and multiculturalism’ (Santos et al., 2008, p. 1003; Root, 1996). Scholarship shows how guiding work, even without the kinds of racism Taste‐Tours guides confront, requires an extensive repertoire of skills: relationship‐building with local businesses; information‐giving and story‐telling; being friendly, patient and deferent; and fostering conviviality (Cohen, 1985). Guiding work is complex and intricate, entailing a range of intellectual, manual, emotional and social skills. Bodies, race and intimacies Studies of tour guides have not examined the embodied interactions required by the work of the guides we observed. This includes not just physical actions, for instance serving, cleaning, pointing, walking, story‐telling and performing, but also engaging with how eating is deeply embodied. Hence we were drawn to analysing our data through the concept of ‘body work’ (Wolkowitz, 2002, 2006; Kang, 2010; Twigg et al., 2011; Wolkowitz et al., 2013). The concept of body work is now usually used to indicate paid work on or with others' bodies, especially when it involves touch, and sometimes also to focus on ministrations the worker must make to their own body. We think it helps to reveal the vulnerabilities of economic exploitation, social abjection, psychological harm and bodily violence the tour guides experienced. Our usage comes closest to Linda McDowell (2009), who identifies body work with highly embodied service sector work requiring co‐presence, whether or not touch is involved. Yet only some of this existing scholarship focuses on racialized body work encounters. Exceptions include McDowell et al. (2007), Milliann Kang (2010), Carol Wolkowitz (2014) and Kiran Mirchandani (2012) who analyse how racist assumptions and fantasies about bodies affect workers in service work. The same is true of ethnic tourism that trades on intimacies. Ethnic food tourism promises to reveal secrets to tourists, showing them what the Other ‘really’ eats (Chez, 2011). The guides are encouraged to personalize their tours and share stories about their intimate lives such as their upbringing and family life. Moreover, eating is an intimate activity involving salivating, dribbling, tasting, sniffing, and the use of orifices such as mouths, nostrils and anuses. Furthermore, tourists undertake ethnic tours to incorporate ‘the Other’ (hooks, 1992) and transform their subjectivity and bodies (Molz, 2007). We show too how tours produce racialized difference through smell, sound, touch intimacies, or what Ahmed calls ‘impressions’ (2004). Hence we adopt the term body work, using it quite broadly as compared to many other commentators, because it enables us to show how the guides' labour on their own bodies; work on the bodies of the tourists; manage their own and the tourists' embodied emotional experience; and deal with the toll that their guiding work takes on their bodies. But for this paper we confine our analysis to smiling, vocalization and shepherding, examining how these are inflected by race and gender and condition tourists' expectations and guides' performances. Racialized body encounters To ground our analysis and extend understandings of body work, we draw on theorists of racialized bodily encounters. David Parker's (2000) research on Chinese takeaways in the United Kingdom (UK) develops Pierre Bourdieu's theory of habitus to include how the embodiment of colonial power produces corporealized racial inequalities.1 In an ethnographic study of Chinese restaurants in the UK, he shows how British Chinese workers are racially and sexually harassed by white British drunk male customers over the takeaway counter. Parker stresses how race and power produce, and are produced, through routine bodily interactions in the service exchange. Hence workers enact an embodied service deference: receptive, attentive and ready for orders. But this embodied interaction is amplified by the ‘deep‐rooted inequalities of historical legacies’ (2000, p. 74). The customers as a result of ‘the legacy of colonization’ carry ‘imperial capital’ in their bodily comportment in the takeaways, asserting their ownership of space and displaying overbearing non‐verbal mannerisms, postures and attitudes. In other words, racialized inequalities and power relations are corporealized in everyday service interactions. While illuminating racialized body work, the effect of Parker's analysis is that bodies seem given, and workers do not appear to challenge power dynamics. Yet in research on tour guiding, researchers suggest that workers respond to customers with resistance (Bunten, 2011; Drew, 2011). For example, Alexis Bunten in her research with Native American guides, insists that the guides ‘enact and refute’ tourists' stereotypes (2011, p. 53) and are sophisticated workers who self‐orientalize to survive economically. Although the guides cast themselves in ways that conform to tourist expectations and fantasies, they resist these through correcting racist misconceptions and using humour. Similarly, Emily Drew (2011) writes about anti‐racist tours designed and led by racially minoritized guides in Chicago. While providing correctives, these studies focus on tourism ventures led by minoritized groups (Taste‐Tours is a white‐run organization). Moreover, neither Parker, Bunten or Drew theorize bodies as materialized in spatial or sensory practices. In contrast, Monica Degen (2008) examines how our senses and bodies mediate our experience of a sense of place and being with Others. Importantly, she does not romanticize senses or encounters with the Other but argues that senses are shaped by social relations of power. Social groups reproduce different sensory practices and ‘sensory contact’ with the Other. Moreover, senses are ambiguous and experiences of spaces and people change. Thus, the body can be ‘constantly challenged by unexpected experiences’ (Degen, 2008, p. 38). Social interactions framed through the senses can be pleasurable but also anxiety provoking. Intimate contact with the Other can feel fearful and invasive. Degen does not focus on the racialization of space or bodies but calls for a theorization of racialized embodiment. Hence, we turn to scholarship on the materialization of bodies, race and space (Ahmed, 2000, 2004; Gunaratnam, 2008; Knowles, 2003; Lobo, 2014). This work assumes that bodies do not pre‐exist but are materialized through the repetition of norms, habits and emotions. We are influenced by the work of Sara Ahmed because of her interest in feminism and race, and her analysis of racial encounters or what she calls the ‘inter‐embodiment’ of bodies, encounters where bodies and difference are materialized. Difference is not found ‘in’ or ‘on’ the body, but rather racialized bodies come to take shape in relation to Others as a result of techniques and practices of differentiation. Here she emphasizes that different bodies do not precede bodily encounters, instead difference is produced in time and space through bodily encounters. Inter‐embodiment is a site where bodies become marked by difference and hierarchy. Bodies and differences are materialized through what Ahmed calls impressions. Impressions are bundles of sense perceptions, emotions and judgments shaped by our bodily encounters with others which are not just individual but mediated by collective histories of racism and colonialism. Like Parker, Ahmed insists that the past inflects racialized interactions. She has a specific way of understanding impressions as forms of touch which bring bodies and difference into being: We need to remember the ‘press’ in an impression. It allows us to associate the experience of having an emotion with the very ‘mark’ left by the press of one surface upon another. So not only do I have an impression of others, but they also leave me with an impression; they impress me and impress upon me (2004, p. 30). Impressions are produced by histories of association, memories and intensification of emotions. As a result, we come to see some bodies as hateful, dangerous or primitive. Through these processes, not simply individual or inter‐subjective, the surface and boundaries of bodies – and social space – materialize, constituted through past histories and present contact. Through reading impressions on our bodies which we imagine are made by Others, we create borders between selves and Others. These readings are based on histories of associations which have already made impressions upon our skin and bodies. In summary, how we have contact with Others produces the Other we encounter: for example, the immigrant, mixed race couple and dangerous Muslim. For these ideas to make sense, we have to ‘unlearn the assumption that the skin is simply already there’ but rather see that it is felt in the event of being impressed upon in encounters with others (2004b, p. 29). The skin then is an important site because it not only seems to ‘contain us’ but is ‘where others impress upon us’ giving us a sense of bodily surface (2004b, p. 29). Skin is a living history of others (2004b, p. 29). At the same time, Ahmed is keen to argue that while impressions are histories of responses, and encounters partly determined, they are not fully determined. There can be surprise: new impressions can be created as we are pressed upon by the proximity of others. Ahmed's conceptualization of impressions challenges taken‐for‐granted assumptions about bodies and touch in much body work literature on body work, reconfiguring how we can understand how contact shapes our bodily and social space. Methodology This paper is focus on participant‐observation of tours, interviews and focus groups with guides we undertook between 2013 and 2015 in Bankstown. We began by meeting and interviewing key informants – the project manager and the lead guide – which provided background about the aims of the tours. Four tours, each lasting six hours and we acted like participants walking, trying samples, photographing and conversing with the guides, participants and shopkeepers were observed. Simultaneously, as researchers, the guides in action and paid attention to how the guides worked back‐ and front‐stage were also noticed. We augmented the participant‐observation of the tours with two formal interviews and five semi‐formal research conversations with the lead guide. We interviewed two restaurant and four shop managers and ran three focus groups with a sample of guides in 2013 and 2015. We ran two focus groups for tourists. For this paper, we draw on data from focus groups with guides, field notes and interviews with the lead guide. Ethics and objectification Knotty ethical considerations underpin research with people from different race and class backgrounds. One step in our approach was to obtain ethics approval from our university and Taste‐Tours. Guides and tourists were informed about their rights regarding voluntary participation and anonymity, the aims of our study and potential risks involved of participation prior to the tours. We obtained consent to observe, photograph and interview the guides and participants. But there are further complexities than consent and anonymity. Critical race scholars question the ethics of white researchers speaking on behalf of and for Others (Ahmed, 2000; Alcoff, 1991; Spivak, 1988). Researchers from dominant groups may reproduce inequalities as a result of their ‘discursively dangerous’ privileged locations and objectifying representational practices (Hinterberger, 2013). While all research objectifies to greater and lesser degrees (Acker et al., 1983), postcolonial philosophers insist that potential objectification is acute in research with racially minoritized people. Measures can be taken, however, to produce more ethical knowledge. For instance, Rebecca Tuvel (2015) mobilizes the concept of ‘epistemic objectification’ to characterize how dominant researchers instrumentalize relations with minoritized participants, treating them as mere sources of information and denying their subjectivity. To be, what she calls ‘epistemically just’, means treating participants with respect, as active epistemic agents who are informants not just sources of knowledge. Researchers must learn about the world of Others in conversation with them, and question their individual and disciplinary presuppositions. At the same time, a non‐domineering and risk‐free ethics towards, and equitable knowledge of the Other is impossible and so researchers have to work within this impossibility and commit to collective action to challenge oppression (Spivak, 1988; Ahmed, 2002). Our approach tried to address these concerns by drawing on principles in feminist and critical race scholarship which foreground the ethical responsibilities of not exploiting respondents and as Tuvel stresses, treating people as full informants. On an ongoing basis, we try to make sense of our power relations in relation to the guides and the production of knowledge about Others and seek to improve material conditions for the guides and local residents. We tried to avoid objectifying the guides by treating them as active informants not simply as sources of information. For example, after one focus group, guides said the website did not represent them well and so we fed this back to the organization, and the information was changed. We discussed our analysis with the guides, seeking views on our draft findings. We prepared a briefing for Taste‐Tours based on our research written in accessible language. In summary, we tried to treat the guides respectfully, listening to them carefully and producing knowledge that seemed to be helpful for them. While most researchers recognize that power relations between researchers and those being researched cannot be completely resolved, we attempted to produce knowledge which challenges oppressive academic thinking (Acker et al., 1983; Skeggs, 1995). Moreover, we see our work contributing to wider feminist and anti‐racist struggles. Guiding work The guides are aware of the contradictions in their role: that they need to provide friendly service and perform anti‐racism. Several guides described how they facilitated their tours so white tourists overcome their fears about crime in the neighbourhood and their embodied anxieties about trying ‘foreign food’, educating them on a range of complex cultural and political issues. Hence, the guides labour to ensure the tourists have a good time while they are working in a context of colonial histories, service asymmetries and xenophobia. Thus, they are very aware that they are working under the tourist gaze inflected by ‘oftentimes nostalgic, romanticizing, patronizing and colonialist overtones’ in a racially maligned suburb (Bunten, 2011, p. 53). The power relations structuring the guides' work is more complicated than other service work. The guides are residents of an area in the Sydney metropolitan region which has been racially stigmatized, class stereotyped and structurally disadvantaged. People from southwestern Sydney are constructed as ‘lowbrow, coarse and lacking education and cultural refinement’ and spatially, culturally and economically Othered by more privileged people from the north and east of Sydney (Gwyther, 2008). Most visitors are white professionals from affluent suburbs with economic, symbolic and cultural power. In contrast, the guides are from racially minoritized backgrounds constructed in racist gendered ways in the media. For example Australian‐Asian women are stereotyped as hyper‐feminine, submissive, introverted and sexually exotic (Matthews, 2002); and Australian Middle‐Eastern women stereotyped as under the thumb of their anti‐modern, brutish Muslim husbands, fathers and brothers, and furthermore, many Australian‐Lebanese women are Christian (Dreher, 2006). Hence, the guides' work is bound up with gendered histories of imperialism and colonialism, and touristic desires to eat the Other and their cheap, exotic food as cited in Ahmed, 2000; hooks, 1992; Parker, 2000). The guides have an extra burden in that they need to provide a service to the local community in how they represent the area, residents, food and culture. Moreover, the guides' own biographies and cultural heritage and/or that of their neighbours and friends form part of the service in that the tours promote the consumption of culture. Thus, there are unequal terms of exchange between the visitors and guides based on deep‐rooted racist pasts, racialized, gendered and classed inequalities, and visitor fantasies and expectations which position them as inferior and Other, available for providing friendly cultural knowledge, intimate personal stories and the emotional labour of educating. As a result, impressions, histories and emotions shape body work relations. Body work on the tours Guides talked about their anxieties standing in front of groups in bodily terms. They were keenly aware of tourist expectations that guides be knowledgeable and welcoming. But some racialized bodies are not necessarily seen as ‘welcoming’, for example Muslim women, and many racialized gendered bodies are not seen as authoritative or knowledgeable, except as home cooks (Tolia‐Kelly, 2009). One guide explained how she used her body to overcome her apprehension about her authority: I think you use all those skills and tools without even realising that you're doing it. You will have your insecure moments. You think: ‘Oh, what am doing here? Or who am I to be leading a group, what do I know?’ You expand as you go … [asking yourself] where or not you stand up tall. The guides discussed how they vary body posture and gestures. As guides explained, some tourists like to act as if they were a guide and show off their food or cultural knowledge. Some tourists don't listen and dominate airtime. The guides have to mediate these behaviours in full view of the rest of the tourists while maintaining conviviality. As one guide said: ‘there's those moments where you feel you need to show a bit more presence and your body language, the way you present yourself totally changes’. The guides read the tourists and the ‘tone of the group’. One said: ‘if you find they're not interested, stop talking about it’. Some tourists are more interested in food and others in cultural aspects. Hence, the guides read the tourists' bodies to see who might not be enjoying themselves and perform interactional work to find out how people are feeling. The tourists vary in their responses to and treatment of the guides. On some tours the guides felt the tourists were only interested in being together. ‘They just don't care’, said one guide. In these cases, the guides perform a more ‘hands‐off’ style while still giving the tourists a good experience. Like the North American guides Bunten (2011) and Drew (2011) researched, the Bankstown guides sometimes ‘othered’ the tourists, infantilizing them. ‘It's like having a six‐year‐old with you but they're not chucking a tantrum’, said one guide. ‘Oh they could’, added another. We now provide three vignettes to freeze‐frame aspects of body work for closer analysis of racialized and gendered impressions. To do this, we draw on direct quotes and summaries from our focus groups and interviews, and extended field notes presented as ‘excerpts’. We have chosen the work of smiling, vocalization and shepherding because tour guiding literature sees these as pivotal but ignores their racialized and embodied dimensions. The smiling body Smiling is the heart of service work (Veijola and Valtonen, 2007). Tourism workers endure smiling for long periods of time while being subject to the tourist gaze, and continue to do so in the face of rude customers, at the same time, disguising their own feelings (Larsen and Urry, 2011). As Claudio Minca writes, ’brochures promising cultural travel experiences in faraway lands are often filled with ‘re ofteiling locals' (2011, p. 28). Since Arlie Hochschild's seminal work (1983) on the emotional labour of cabin crew, smiling has been written about as a stressful body technique. In essence, smiling is a culturally feminised expression, exhibiting the ‘will to please’ (Veijola and Valtonen, 2007) with workers accepting they are ‘inferior’ to the guest (Larsen and Urry, 2011). Smiling under service work conditions requires skills in expression and the suppression of feelings (Larsen and Urry, 2011). Research stresses that smiling as a work technique takes its toll, bodily and emotionally, particularly given that workers' authenticity are under close scrutiny by customers and managers. Theorists, however, rarely discuss smiling, and its surveillance, in relation to race or racism (Flowers and Swan, 2015). And yet, smiling represents a more complex ‘feeling rule’ for racialized minorities in terms of how racialized smiling is performed in the context of racism and oppression (Kang, 2010). Smiling as a form of body work is more complex than might be imagined. As Soile Veijola and Anu Valtonen argue, smiling involves a ‘convinced and convincing body that relates to another person: it is an embodied display and act of amiable hospitality. It lingers in voice, gestures and bodily positions, not only on the lips’ (2007, p. 21). We saw the guides deploy smiling bodies on many occasions in different ways. A critical smiling moment is at the start of the tour, when the guides smile broadly with their face, gestures, postures and voice, producing themselves as a ‘welcoming body’ so that the group of tourists feels cared for emotionally, socially and physically in a space marked as abject, criminalized and Other (Wise, 2005, p. 175). Another important smiling moment is when guides encourage tourists to try different foods. The guides see this as skilled work and take pride in choosing a selection of foods that tourists will not have tried before. The guides discussed how tourists were not always as open to trying new foods as they might have imagined. Some were perplexed that tourists on an ethnic food tour did not like, for example, garlic and chilli. The guides swapped stories about how they encourage tourists to try foods they say they do not like. Typically, these include: Vietnamese avocado milkshake, Ayran salty yoghurt drink and okra. The guides deploy strategies including telling personal stories, cajoling, using humour and associated body work. One guide described in detail how he influenced a woman to try Lebanese charcoal chicken with garlic sauce even after she said ‘I don't eat anything with garlic’. The guide showed how he pulled an appealing facial expression, slightly flirtatious, gesturing with his hands and smiling warmly to encourage her. We observed how the guides used a whole range of warm, unthreatening and deferent‐seeming smiles to ‘hostess’ the tourists around food (Veijola and Jokinen, 2008). In this next excerpt, we discuss such an example. This event took place early on in the tour when guides know their early responses set a tone for how the group feels about trying food. The tourists need to feel confident and comfortable and the guides' role is to encourage them to taste and buy food that also serves the interests of the businesses with whom guides have developed relationships: On our first stop, we follow the Australian Lebanese guide as she strides towards the Middle‐Eastern side of town towards an unprepossessing Lebanese Pizza café. The shop name is written in English and Arabic, with a sign to show they serve halal meat. We nudge ourselves into the small space, moving gingerly towards the café counter. The Australian‐Lebanese owner gives us a big smile. A smell of cooked bread and spices hangs in the air. The café is hot and the oven has been working overtime. There is little energy from the tourists. We are not sure what's happening. Why are we eating pizza? Why is it such an unshowy café? Is this exotic? The guide fiddles with her microphone, whispering to the owner and then straightens her body upright, grins broadly to show that she is now guiding. She introduces the café owner. Wiping sweat off her face, she smiles, and explains that ‘we are going to try cheesy pizza, my favourite comfort food. The mix of haloumi and mozzarella will be nice and chewy.’ Steaming pizza slices are handed round, spicy, hot to bite, shiny with olive oil, in greaseproof paper. We are close together but we try to eat in our own tiny private spaces. We chew and swallow. The guide passes white cups round, keeping her eye on the flow of the cups. ‘This is what we Lebanese like to eat with our pizza,’ she shouts. ‘It's called Ayran, a salty yoghurt drink. Very refreshing. It goes well with cheesy pizza.’ Some people pour a little out and then hold onto the cup, but drink no more. Someone takes their first sip, wrinkles up their face, and turns up their nose. It's a face of disgust. The guide sees the face. She smiles, pauses and then laughs loudly; but not for long. She exclaims, ‘I can see you are not feeling it!’ She shrugs gently. The guide's body work involves responding to tourist's bodily and intimate practices including drinking and eating. Indeed, disgust is profoundly embodied and expressed with characteristic facial movements. Noses wrinkle, mouths grimace, faces turn away, tongues protrude as if to let the bad taste into the air and gagging sounds are made. Tourists expressed disgust several times on the tours: a nose wrinkle here, a quiet ‘yuk’ there, a moving away from certain foods or spaces, a mock poking out of the tongue, shared looks, and asking the guides in a scandalized way: ‘What is this?’ And of course, disgusted bodily expressions are made by and make impressions. Food disgust is a form of rejection. Theorists debate the extent to which food disgust is prompted by intrinsic material properties of smell, taste or even texture of foods versus how these are historically and culturally inflected as cited in Longhurst et al., 2008). For example, in a discussion on the eating of jellied eels in the east end of London, Alex Rhys‐Taylor (2013) argues against biological explanations of disgust and traces how specific and complex social histories and economic geographies have influenced British class‐inflected attitudes towards eating eels. Hence, what is being rejected in being disgusted by food is not simply the biological properties of food but classed and racialized histories and associations. If we return to ideas on racialized body impressions, food disgust produces bodily and social space. Thus, for Ahmed (2004), it is not the food but the proximity of the food to body that makes the tourists feel disgusted. Disgust involves contact, proximity and distance. To paraphrase Ahmed, proximity to the disgusted object transforms the surface of the body of the disgusted tourist, causing their bodies ‘to “recoil”’ (2004, p. 83). Their disgust of Ayran, Vietnamese Avocado drink and okra is based on real or imagined contact between the surfaces of bodies and objects. There is a ‘double movement’ to disgust: tourist's body coming close to the food and then pulling away once the proximity to the food is found to be disgusting (2014c, p. 85–6). The object of disgust seems to come too close, invading their bodily space. Disgust is ‘not just about gut feelings but mediated by ideas that are already implicated in the very impressions we make of others and the way those impressions surface as bodies’ (2004c: 83). What we take to be disgusting has a history and is affected by questions of familiarity and strangeness, which produce forms of contact between surfaces of bodies and objects. Ayran, okra, garlic, chilli and avocado milkshake are not inherently disgusting. They taste bad only in the mouth of certain eaters like the tourists. The guides try to understand why some tourists don't attempt to taste Ayran and others try it but don't like it: why as one of the guides expressed it, they find it confronting. One suggested ‘it is in the tourists’ minds, a mental response’. Another built on this and said, ‘I think yoghurt is associated with sweetness or dessert in western culture. And not savoury. It is because of being salty and tart and sour.’ But they remain confused: ‘Yet it's so close to white food so I find it surprising that everybody was kind of going [non‐verbal expression of disgust]’. She jokes that for white people, ‘the yoghurt drink, like it was the worst thing. It's worse than sheep's head’ at which the rest of the guides in the focus group laughed. Food is a powerful object of disgust because it is taken into the body, meaning we figuratively and literally ingest Otherness (Longhurst et al., 2008). Through our orifices, we open ourselves up, making our bodily integrity vulnerable, particularly in relation to the Other. Indeed, taste is intimate (Probyn, 2012). Hence, disgust ‘works to push away others, and in the process, establish one's own identity as non‐disgusting’ (Lawler, 2014, p. 157). As William Miller writes: Disgust … recognizes and maintains difference. Disgust helps define boundaries between us and them, me and you. It helps prevent our way from being subsumed into their way 1997, p. 50 as cited in Lawler, 2014, p. 157). This vignette shows how even ‘food adventurers’ keen to eat the Other have limits to how much difference they can tolerate (Heldke, 2003). While they may be open when they book the tours, the reality of Bankstown, racialized bodies and space, and sensory impressions may change this (Degen, 2008). Sometimes that difference is too close for comfort; even when it is the Other's comfort food. In the inter‐embodied dynamics, the guides' body is impressed upon by the disgusted tourist bodies and past histories. The tourists do not always hide their disgust and often it is performed for others to see. With loud, insistent voices, tourists say, ‘I don't like that’ in a way that wouldn't be done in other service encounters. The guides' bodies, cannot recoil away from the disgusted body of the tourist but must perform an impression of smiling, and do it convincingly. As theorists note, doing this repeatedly on the tours, and in your life, shape your face, body and space (Parker, 2000; Ahmed, 2000). Furthermore, disgust towards the Other's food and their strange eating are part of a dominant racial construction in Australia and elsewhere (Han, 2007). Thus, sensuous multiculturalism may bring us new recipes, flavours and restaurants but smelly multiculturalism stinks of foreignness. Many racially minoritized migrants remember with poignancy, shame, humiliation and frustration that their foods have been seen by white people as Other — smelly, inedible, unpalatable — which condenses their feelings of not belonging (Han, 2007). Thus, we stress that for racially minoritized guides smiling is not the same as white service workers smiling. The capacity to be seen as friendly is racially and unevenly distributed. For instance, racialized bodies such as those belonging to Muslims are marked as sources of fear and hate (Tolia‐Kelly, 2009; Ahmed, 2004). Secondly, there is a history of expectations that migrants or ‘natives’ and especially women will smile. Using the phrase the ‘curse of the smile’, Ien Ang (1996) discuss how smiling Asian women have been used as ‘pet people’ in Australia to represent happy multiculturalism. As Irvin Painter puts it, ‘many many white people want their black people to be unfailingly sweet‐tempered and smiling, which isn't even possible for people who are under inspection all of the time’ (as cited in Swan, 2010). Thirdly, feeling rules shape how racialized minorities are expected to express emotion in relation to white people, making them feel good (Kang, 2010; Mirchandani, 2012). Moreover, racialized men and women are expected to show ‘extraordinary emotional restraint’ in the face of racism and discrimination (Mirchandani, 2012; Parker, 2000). In this way, smiling in the face of bodily disgust produces racialized and gendered bodies, service encounters based on intimacy and sensory, bodily effects for guides and tourists. The tourist's ear In this next section, we shift from the guides' smiling mouth and the eating tourist mouth towards a different form of orality: the guides' voice (Blackman, 2008). We call the section the tourist's ear as a counterpoint to the highly influential concept of the tourist gaze, first coined by John Urry (1990) to explain power relations in sight‐seeing, to examine tourism as an ‘aural encounter’ (Alderman and Arnold Modlin Jr., 2015). Researchers on tour guiding see storytelling and information‐giving (Cohen, 1985) as core activities but despite a turn to performance in tourism studies (Edensor, 2000), the bodily and vocal performance of guides have been neglected. Researchers are beginning to study the use of the voice in racialized, gendered work. For example, Kiran Mirchandani (2012) shows how Indian call centre workers use their voices to transmit a sense of the ‘bodily disposition’ of the ideal deferent service worker, westernised and empathetic, against a backdrop of racism. Derek Alderman and E. Arnold Modlin Jr. (2015) highlight how the race politics of voices affects tourists' ability to listen to anti‐racist history in slave planation museums. This research does not, however, attend to the sonic materiality of voice. In contrast, sound theorists underline how sound is embodied and material: a voice vibrates, giving presence to a body, circulating outside of the speaking body and weaving between bodies (Schlichter, 2011). Producing voice is a physical process of making sound waves which then vibrate in and impress on the ears and bodies of listeners, with strong voices palpable and reverberating (Schlichter, 2011). Moreover, pace, accent and dialect and aural architectures affect how we listen (Kanngieser, 2012). Voice is not only marked by, but enacts race and gender. Voices are visually, as much as acoustically, seen as ‘evidence’ of race in body work because of circulating racialized schemas of bodies (Eidsheim, 2011). Vocal dimensions help make meaning, some of which – pitch, breathiness and prosody – are clearly gendered and racialized (van Leeuwen, 1999). Thus, sound and speech affect our listening, impress upon our bodies, our relations with each other and produce space, power, race and gender (Degen, 2008). We can see that vocalization is a complex and neglected form of body work which can make gendered, racialized bodily impressions. When we asked the guides how they used their voices, they were able to explain in nuanced ways. Some of their discussion was about the pragmatic issue of projecting their voices so that groups could hear them, particularly in larger groups or noisy places. The guides were divided on the use of a microphone to help them. One guide liked the microphone as her voice gets tired and ‘you have to save your voice’, revealing the toll of guiding work on voices. Related to this was getting the tourists to listen: several guides explained that using a microphone meant that ‘they pay more attention’. The guides described how this was not just an issue of noise but of authority: as one guide puts it: ‘Believe me, when you have microphone, when you start to talk … everyone listens to you’. One of them explains: ‘You have to give the voice that you are here the leader. You have to lead them around’. The guides saw quieter vocalization as a tool of cultural and political sensitivity. The microphone for two guides was ‘invasive’ and ‘disruptive’ for non‐tourists. As one explained: ‘I feel like not everyone wants to hear about what's happening with us’. The guides described how they needed to be careful for fear of provoking offence about what they said in public about food, religion and ethnicity, and longstanding military conflict such as between Israel and neighbouring countries. As one put it, ‘Australia is a home for refugees. Minorities are coming to Australia from conflicts’. She continued to explain: If I'm talking about Lebanese culture … some people ask me about the divide between the religious or different sects. I wouldn't like to talk about it very loudly to not offend maybe customers that are present. So the voice is a tool, not only for loud voice but also to control it. That's why the mike didn't suit me, I think. The guides reflected on using the tone and volume of their voices to create intimate atmospheres for the tour. They described how the microphone obliterated their careful vocalization and the effects they wanted to create: ‘You can't really change the tone, the intonation. I don't want the microphone because I want to be able to use my voice and the nuances’. She elaborated: ‘I think it's more intimate without [it]. It's more personal’. Another added, ’It makes it more cosy when you're talking to them’. Hence, they were aware of sound intimacies. As one of the guides explained: Sometimes you want to put your voice down. You want them to come closer to you … And you don't want to make it loud. Because you're telling them a bit sensitive. Maybe make them feel it's a secret … We play on those things. We play cheeky. ‘I'm telling you something that no one knows about’. These sound intimacies were refracted through racialized and gendered assumptions in ethnic food tourism that women hold onto traditional family ethnic food secrets, and about which the guides are canny. We provide a more extended example from our field notes of a Chinese woman guide telling us supposed secrets in an Asian supermarket. She migrated from mainland China eight years ago, has completed two Masters degrees in Australia, and exuded confidence both on and and off‐stage through her body language and voice tone. This data highlights the intersectionality of body work and how race works differently in bodily impressions: At our third stop at the Asian supermarket, she finds a packet of red dates with Chinese labelling. She brandishes them excitedly, bringing them to everyone's attention as if she had found a hidden treasure. We strain to see what she is holding up to show us. She tells us that these are the ‘king of fruit’. She is now in prime position at the front of a huddle of tourists. She speaks enthusiastically with vim and cadence in her voice. Her speech is marked by a strong but clearly understandable Chinese accent, and she enunciates phrases with emphasis. As she talks, she looks round at her audience to keep their attention. These [red dates] were exclusive to queens and princesses. They are very special. But now we ordinary people can eat them. In the old days in China the emperor sent one of his people to find anti‐ageing products for the queens and princesses. He happens upon a village … All the women had this beautiful youthful skin. He lived with the villagers for three months to discover their secret. He observed that they ate red dates everyday: in cakes, soups and rice. As a spice. Then the red dates were introduced to the imperial court and became exclusive for queens and princesses. ‘These are very expensive’, she reminds us. ‘But try it. They are good in particular for ladies’, she confides, ‘good for menstruation periods, as they are rich in iron and replace lost blood. They are a superfood, packed with energy. They can be eaten raw, used to make drinks, as a spice in foods, and for facial masks’. The guide held the attention of the tourists as she projected her voice, clear, strong, evenly breathing. Towards the end of the story, her tempo sped up. The guide mobilized her throat, mouth, teeth, tongue, ribcage and lungs, tensing muscles to project her voice above the hubbub of customers, workers and radio. Her body work was skilled and complex, entailing the conscious and unconscious use of eye contact, gestures, stance and most vitally, her tempo, prosody (stress and intonation), pitch, breath, volume and timbre. The guide's vocalization constituted part of her seductive self‐orientalizing work, enthusing the group to try and buy the dates. Of significance for our discussion is that the guide spoke with a mainland Chinese accent. All of the guides bar one, spoke with accents: Australian‐Lebanese, southwestern Sydney accent, Lebanese, Australian‐Greek, Thai, mainland Chinese‐Mandarin. One guide felt that these accents added authenticity to the tours: ‘I think our customers are really interested in our diversity and our real authentic self’. A critical way in which voices are racialized, and make impressions, is through the construction and reception of accents. Accent refers to the phonological pattern of speech, pronunciation, intonation and syllable stress related to national, ethnic, geographic and social backgrounds (Pensalfini, 2009). All speech is accented but some accents are seen as ‘strong’ or ‘neutral’ as a result of power relations and cultural formations. Indeed, accents are critical to the reproduction of stereotypes. Intensely stigmatised, Chinese accents are stereotyped in international and Australian popular culture, including in films, radio, cartoons and voice‐overs, with women's accents feminised, orientalized and exoticized (Pao, 2004). These dynamics means that the tourist's ear will be impressed upon materially by the guides' vocalization. As Yasmin Gunaratnam reminds us, ‘to hear … is literally to be touched by others … [an] intimacy with difference’ (2008, p. 115). Thus, the Chinese guide's accent and vocalization work to create an imaginary conduit to Others' bodies far away. Her accent gives an impression to the tourists that she is ‘authentically Chinese’, reinforced by an essentialist view that Chinese diaspora carry their ‘Chineseness’ with them (Parker, 2000): ‘embody[ing] distance’ (Ahmed, 2006, p. 121). Through her vocalization and the content of the story, she creates a point of identification for the women tourists, invoking an idea of a ‘pan‐femininity’ based on ideas about beauty and health (Stacey, 2000). She appeals to a commonplace western white fantasy about the ancient and secret wisdom of Oriental traditional beauty (Stacey, 2000). Her enticing performance transforms the tourists' disinterested glances into a ‘shopping look’, consuming the Other as a means to perform body work on themselves (Larsen and Urry, 2011). In this way, the far‐away stranger who is already known through Orientalism becomes closer (Ahmed, 2013). In buying the dates, the tourist fantasies transmute into material practices of playing with femininity through imitation, ‘in which self and other intersect in intimate ways’ (Stacey, 1994, p. 167). Hence, racialized and gendered body work produces impressions which replay histories and fantasies and create bodily effects. Shepherding In this final vignette, we focus on the guides' shepherding body work. Shepherding refers to the work guides do in providing a safe and secure route, facilitating comfort, collecting stragglers, monitoring the pace of the group and keeping the tourists to the timetable and itinerary (Cohen, 1985, p. 12). In bodily terms, shepherding involves gestures and bodily movements; especially walking in varying tempo and intensity: for instance, marching, setting the pace, leading from the front, walking backwards turning round to check everyone is there, slowly stopping, moving from a stop to ambling to striding. These enable different forms of sociality and sociability on the tour (Edensor, 2000). Indeed, part of the structure of a tour is that it has a rhythm of a ‘stop‐start collective performance’ involving ‘timetabled activities, improvisations, selected route and potted narratives’ (Edensor, 2000). While Tim Edensor (2000) contributes to our understanding of guides' shepherding body work, he does not take into account the racial texture of place, and the impressions this produces on the tourists' and guides' bodies (Knowles, 2003; Flowers and Swan 2015). In contrast, we argue that the shepherding work of the guides is partly a response to racial inter‐embodiment, touch and contact. On the tours, the guides take tourists to different types of spaces in Saigon Place on the main shopping precinct of Bankstown. These include the fronts of shops, sequestered spaces at the back of shops and special reserved areas in cafes and restaurants. These can be understood respectively as ‘enclavic’ and ‘heterogeneous’ spaces: the former are ‘purified spaces’ designed for tourists: air‐conditioned, sanitized, regimented, clean, quiet, uncluttered spaces like hotels or coaches, cutting tourists off from offensive smells, sights and sounds (Edensor, 2000). In enclavic space, there is a minimising of body contact, ‘weakening the sense of tactile reality’ (Sennett (1994) as cited in Edensor, 2000, p. 349) and a ‘minimizing of sensory stimuli … to pacify the bodies of tourists’ (2000, p. 349). Heterogeneous spaces, Edensor argues, are usually found in non‐western countries, and have not been designed for tourists, although tourists may visit them. They are unplanned, less controlled, more haphazard, with distractions, diversions and an intensity of sensations and impressions. Walking itself may be less linear, more random, and involve negotiating obstacles, avoiding hassle and remaining alert. He writes: The pedestrian is likely to enjoy a more vivid and varied sensual experience in heterogeneous space … The norms of pleasurably jostling in the crowd, and the different textures brushed against and underfoot, engender a haptic geography wherein there is continuous touching of others and weaving between and among bodies. The ‘smellscapes’ of heterogeneous space are rich and varied. `Soundscapes' produce a changing symphony…. This sensory onslaught can facilitate a bodily awareness of diverse sensual sensations and stimulate unexpected flights of fancy (Edensor, 2000, p. 340). Reproducing a somewhat romanticized and masculinist sense of space, Edensor does not mention how the capacity to walk in this way is differentiated by gender, class and race. Indeed, Ahmed (2006) stresses how space ‘closes down’, shrinking for racially minoritized people and white women. Moreover, Edensor does not theorize how racialized spaces, and bodily, sensory and spatial practices, may ‘impress’ non‐white bodies in ways which create fear as much as pleasure (Degen, 2008). The guides repeatedly discussed how worried and fearful tourists were when they came to southwestern Sydney. Guides told us tourists had perceptions of Bankstown as being dangerous and criminal with tourists asking if it is safe enough for them to park their cars. Tourists told us that they knew Bankstown had a bad image and couple of them said they were scared to come to southwestern Sydney on the train. As a result, the guides see an important part of their work as spatial and sensory, challenging people's stereotypes by enabling people to feel safe in public spaces. Guides said ‘we meet at train stations when people say [they] are scared of getting off’ or ‘we are getting people to walk in the streets and lanes’. Another added that tourists need guides ‘to ease’ them into the area. As one guide put it: tourists come from insular peninsulas up there [laughs] North, East, South. I find a lot of people don't usually come out of their little five kilometre radius and it's like a big adventure to travel to these areas they've only heard bad things about … I think that's why they're there because they do want to experience it but in a controlled — you know being hand‐held along the way to be shown something different. Because you're probably a bit scared to venture on your own. Not only are tourists apprehensive about travelling to southwestern Sydney, the guides observed that they were also worried about going into the shops because they imagined shopkeepers wouldn't speak English. As one guide said: ‘I knew someone who said “I'd never go shopping at Lakemba because they do not speak English” and I wondered “How do you know they don't speak English if you have not been there?”’. Another noted that one tourist left the tour briefly to go into a shop and she congratulated her that she had ‘the courage’ to go into a shop by herself. Guides felt that tourists were also intimidated about going into shops as they didn't understand what many of the foods were. Hence the guides are finely tuned to how the tourists feel on the tour and their responsibility for what one described as the ‘setting the tone of the group’. One stressed how the tourists relax at the end of the tour when they are seated having lunch: It's just like having — me as a mother having young children you've got to constantly look out for and that's what I'm conscious of the whole time. Is everyone okay? Crossing the roads and because people tend to talk and straggle and you've got to – even if it's a small group you've got to make sure everyone's together and so you're constantly on the lookout. So you're on edge the whole time. The guides see their role as making people feel different about the area and enabling them to meet locals and emphasizing how friendly the area is. The guides know that the tours are a balance between threatening and strange and exotic and interesting. Guides report being very nervous the day before the tours and exhausted after they end. One noted, ‘So you've really got to talk yourself into that role and then once you're in it, yes, by the lunchtime you're just relieved that everyone's sitting in the spot, you're not having to constantly move’. Another guide adds, ‘it is not about the walking; it is the emotional aspect’. One guide explained, ‘So it's all orchestrating, it's very hard. So you're constantly thinking how to cope’. The tourists want something a bit ‘raw’ and ‘edgy,’ as two of the guides explained. They see the sensory aspects of the tours as central to changing the tourists' racist feelings: We want to make it as sensory for them as possible … guys have a sniff of this … It's a huge thing because it's all part of the memories, it's all part of what they extract from it. They don't just get things that they take with them. They get all of the senses combining together to create a picture of the area. So no, it's not just about what the media feeds you: it's about all these other things. The guides select which shops to take tourists to and they enjoy taking tourists to a Middle Eastern grocery shop which has a large spice display. The lead guide built a good relationship with the owners and the male owner was happy to talk to the tourists: Spices are always a feast for their senses. They are visually impressed in how they are displayed. The sight and smell and taste. Colour and smell excites people. They are like ‘WOW’. We can smell and touch stuff. It's a big shop and everyone can fit in. The guides tell us that some shopkeepers are not welcoming and some shops less sensorially exciting and so they do not use these businesses on the tours if they can help it. In our field notes, we noticed the main street, a heterogeneous space, was experienced as more ‘foreign’ and unsettling, evidenced in the tourists' embodiment and as a result of closer proximity to racialized bodies and intense contact with olfactory, aural and visual impressions. In Ahmed's terms, these further materialize bodily and social space: As the visitors walk through the main street, signposted Saigon Place, they can smell wafts of a sweet and yeasty aroma from the Vietnamese and Chinese bakers; and the salty spicy roasted Chinese duck infused with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and star anise. Just past the narrow, dark, half‐hidden alley to the fish market where the floor is being hosed down to clean it of ice and waste, a briny odour, like the smell of the sea lingers in the air. The tourists catch Asian pop music on tinny radios and televisions as they shuffle past the shops and cafes and overhear chattering, muttering, joking, bantering and conversing in Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese. Their eyes scan the street ahead, and racialized bodies coming towards them and avert quickly from the abundant trays of lumps of offal – hearts, necks, feet, kidneys, tripe, tongues – on display at several Asian butchers. Smelling the sweet sugary cane drinks on the stall next to the delicatessen, the tourists survey the range of brightly coloured liquids but turn away quickly when their eyes alight on the bank of luminous, gelatinous jellies and dessert balls made from seaweed, taro, red and black beans. As the visitors try to move down the street in a group, navigating their bodies past clothes racks, fruit and vegetable stalls, cafe tables and chairs straddling the pavement, Asian women get in their way as they stop to inspect the freshness of fruit and vegetables. Delivery‐men unload goods on the pavement in front of the shops, wheeling heavy‐laden trolleys in between the visitors. The movements and habits of racialized bodies interrupt the ability of the visitors to walk seamlessly through the street. Visitors do not understand signs, conversations and languages. They cannot tell what certain foods are, how much they cost, or where they come from and more than this, there are activities, habits, and social relationships they cannot comprehend. The guides have to shepherd the tourists through the intensely racialized heterogeneous space to the less intense, enclavic space of the shops and cafes, and where the tourists can exercise their ‘imperial capital’ more easily (Parker, 2000). Critical race scholars argue that the ‘racial texture of space’ (Knowles, 2003) is produced through architecture, the senses and the embodied performance of race which produces the impressions, emotions and ‘intensities of inter‐racial encounters’ (Tolia‐Kelly and Crang, 2010), shaped by an ‘archive’ of racist and colonial pasts active in the present. Thus, tourists experience the ‘ethnic occupation’, of an area ‘shown through the aesthetic markers of race such as the buildings, shops and houses’; their use; and how they manifest the politics of the architecture, buildings and public space (Knowles, 2003, p. 88). Moreover, on the main street, the racial texture of the street is amplified by the embodiment and ‘kinaesthetics’ of race expressed in the presence and proximities of bodies; their style and clothing; their habits, gestures, postures; how they walk and talk; their manner of occupying or moving through space and sensory practices (Degen, 2008 and Knowles, 2003). Hence, for the tourists, the main street in Bankstown becomes a racially ‘viscous’ space (Saldanha, 2007) in which racialized bodies move, talk, shop, smoke, eat and drink; and they have to find their way through the accumulated habits, pathways, activities and social relationships which are embedded in these (Knowles, 2003). While there are racialized bodily and sensory encounters in the enclavic spaces in the shops and cafes, white people view racialized main streets as less friendly, ‘unpredictable’, ‘uncivil’ spaces because of their ‘fears of the risks of uncontrolled encounters in public space’ with racialized bodies (Jackson, 1999, p. 35). Visitors feel more unsettled on the street because through the intimacies and impressions of racialized signifiers, activities, smells, noises, and embodied practices, space becomes and impressions of lated habits, pathwaexpressed’ in them (Knowles, 2003, p. 88). Furthermore, racialized bodily impressions are inflected by how southwestern Sydney has been abjected for so long, seen as dangerous and Other. The guides know that some tourists arrive with racist ideas about Bankstown. The guides, however, are not able to openly name racism. They know that tourists can only take so much racial difference impressing intimately on their skins. As two of the guides explained, there are what they called ‘pockets of space’ where you can take the tourists and ‘we know where the pockets are to take them’. The guides' body work involves mediating embodied space, sensory qualities and the rhythms of other bodies, helping tourists through the heterogeneous space and to the quiet, less intense spaces of the enclavic stops. Shepherding body work is a nuanced, sensitive balancing act of reading bodies and managing the contact zone of the street, sensory and spatial practices. On one hand, the guides enable the tourist to experience the Other in more sensory, intimate, embodied ways. On the other hand, they are conscious of the risks: ‘antagonisms and hostilities fuelled by difference in skin, body, dress, movement and activity’ which rehearse past impressions, other faces, times and spaces (Knowles, 2003, p. 101; Ahmed, 2000). Conclusion As theorists note, body work often entails intimacies and vulnerabilities, and through our research on an ethnic food tour, we contribute to such studies by extending how bodies, intimacy and vulnerability are conceptualized. In the paper, using Ahmed's concepts of inter‐embodiment and impressions, we stress that racialized bodies need to be understood as materializing in body work. In particular, we show how body work on the tours includes smiling, vocalization and shepherding and can be understood as contact with the Other. We stress too the structural specificities of racialized and gendered vulnerabilities for the workers which impress their bodies and work. Hence the guides labour under conditions of shame and racism where Bankstown and its residents have been constructed as Other in gendered, racialized ways. The guides mediate these through performing body work and reading the tourists' bodies. Although tourists may wish to be open to racial difference, their bodies sometimes betray them. Smells, bodies, voices, noise impress on them in ways that they may not expect or understand. And as Ahmed insists such impressions are related to past histories, relations with Others, and wider social and economic structures. These work interactions are inflected by racism which require more emotional and bodily labour from the guides than is understood in theories on service work. Indeed, white people should not underestimate how racism causes vulnerabilities for racially minoritized people (Ahmed, 2004b; Lobo, 2014; Parker, 2000). At the same time, the guides report that they enjoy their work. As one guide said, ‘being a Taste‐Tours food guide … has been an amazing thing’. Several attest to improved confidence and enhanced respect from family or friends because of the work they do, and most say they value the project of transforming the perception of their neighbourhood. In spite of fear and apprehension, many tourists too say how much they have appreciated the guides and the tours. But the wider structural context means that the guides do their work of multicultural intimacy in a context of racism, Islamophobia and policy anti‐multiculturalism, where the state has withdrawn funding for anti‐racist initiatives. Hence, councils see tourism as a way to regenerate areas, and the body work of racially minoritized women a means to counter racism through the intimacies and body work of food multiculturalism. Racially minoritized workers are being asked to produce a welcoming, happy multicultural body against a backdrop of racism, abjection and asymmetrical power relations. Indeed, through their skilled body work, disadvantaged migrant women perform multiculturalism work, using intimacy to transform white racism and tourists' bodily and emotional interiorities. Declaration of conflicting interests The authors declared no potential conflicts of interests with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article. Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not‐for‐profit sectors. Note 1 Bourdieu has substantially influenced scholarship in studies of body work and food studies. As Parker and others (Horvat, 2003) stress, Bourdieu's conceptualisation of habitus, central to many theories of body work, neglects to address the embodied experiences of racialized hierarchies, and hence in this paper, we draw more extensively on critical race theorists who examine the relations between racialization and bodies. Biographies Rick Flowers and Elaine Swan have jointly undertaken research of various ethnic food tour organizations, food social enterprises, food activist initiatives and food practices in a mixed race family, drawing on feminist and critical race theory. They are particularly interested in food pedagogies and with Maud Perrier have established a blog on food, race, gender, work and pedagogy. To date, they have jointly published ten book chapters and journal papers and an edited volume with Routledge — Food Pedagogies. Elaine in the School of Business, Management and Economics at the University of Sussex. Rick Flowers and Elaine Swan have jointly undertaken research of various ethnic food tour organizations, food social enterprises, food activist initiatives and food practices in a mixed race family, drawing on feminist and critical race theory. They are particularly interested in food pedagogies and with Maud Perrier have established a blog on food, race, gender, work and pedagogy. To date, they have jointly published ten book chapters and journal papers and an edited volume with Routledge — Food Pedagogies. Rick is in the School of Education, University of Technology Sydney. References Acker, J., Barry, K. and Esseveld, J. (1983). 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