E3


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Great expectations? Anticipation, imagination and expectation in the tourist 
Convenors:
Dimitrios Theodossopoulos (University of Kent)
Jonathan Skinner (University of Roehampton)
Stream:
Series E: Enchantment
Location:
GCG09/10
Start time:
11 April, 2007 at 16:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

Expectation and satisfaction, appeal and desire, projection, caricaturisation and self-exotisation: how are these forces and processes managed, harnessed, organised and structured - if at all - by those involved in the tourists' gaze and the tourists's desires?

Long Abstract

Expectation and satisfaction, appeal and desire, projection, caricaturisation and self-exotisation: many of those involved in attracting tourists imagine and envisage the tourists' wants and desires, and they try to shape and slant the tourist encounter accordingly. They project an image of their own culture into the imagination of their potential visitors; they aspire to control the tourists' gaze and tourists' desires, and to give them the spectacle that they think that the tourists want.

This panel seeks to explore the complexities of this interplay between tourist provider (controversially known as 'the host') and the tourist recipient ('the guest'). How do guests imagine and how are they imagined? What does this imagining do for the hosts? Does it turn them into 'autoOrientalised' versions of themselves? Or authors of their own culture and destiny? How are processes and products harnessed and utilised in this ethereal and fantastic interplay (when notions of indigeneity or authenticity come to the fore in novel and sometimes unusual ways)? How successful or unsuccessful are attempts to anticipate the desires of visitors? And how are the desires, anticipations, imaginations and expectations connected with power, authority and empowerment? We welcome papers which use tourism materials and experiences to think through some of the above.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Jacqueline Waldren (Oxford University)

Paper short abstract:

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Paper long abstract:

A rise in heritage, identity and environmental consciousness has made conservation of the ancient, the natural and the unique of major importance to both local and tourist visitors to the Balearic Islands. However what is ?natural? or ?authentic? and worthy of conserving is a disputed question. With tourism now a major economic and social force in most of the islands bordering the Mediterranean, culture is often commoditized. Monuments are cleaned and made accessible to tourists and the tourism industry relies on such images to attract people to adventure into the past, they market past culture. Restored ancient monuments and preserved relics on the island of Mallorca offer the visitors an experience of another place and time which allows them to view their own lives in contrast to a far distant past. Island systems, are unique laboratories to gain knowledge and understanding of tourist and providers expectations, satisfactions, appeal and desire in local, international and global terms. This study will focus on an archaeological dig in one of the most tourist oriented areas of the Mediterranean where the commoditization of people, present and past cultures and environment is highly developed. The tourists have diverse expectations (but are their expectation really met?); there are locals who try to imagine/anticipate what the tourists expect from Mallorca (e.g. an experience of another place and time) but how successful is their guess?; there are archaeologists with their own expectations of discovering another place and time. How these different/similar expectations interact with each other will form the dynamic of this paper. The tourists motivations, imaginings and satisfactions of participating in the unravelling of ancient lives through the study of artefacts, landscapes and human remains will be contrasted to the stereotypical expectations of sand, sea and sex tourism so often associated with the Balearic Islands.

Author:

Hazel Tucker (University of Otago)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the problematic nature and gendered differentiation of tourist-local encounters in Goreme, central Turkey. It thus highlights the importance and politics of access to 'touristic knowledge' and the associated ability to anticipate tourist desire.

Paper long abstract:

That the meeting of tourists and local 'hosts' is a complex phenomenon raises questions both about how 'hosts' acquire knowledge concerning tourists' expectations and desires and about what occurs in their attempting to meet those desires. This paper discusses the gendered differentiation of these encounters in the touristed village of Goreme in central Turkey. The discussion begins by describing one particular encounter between a village woman, a German couple and me, a female New Zealand-based researcher with previous ethnographic research experience in the village. The Goreme woman, like other women in the village, regularly invites passing tourists in to look at her cave-house in the hope of selling them handicraft items. The problematic nature of the encounter exposes the limited ability of Goreme women to understand the desires and expectations of the tourist 'other', an understanding that would enable them to successfully meet the tourists', as well as their own, desires. The Goreme men, in their tourism entrepreneurial activities, have been interacting with tourists and each other in the tourism spaces of Goreme for twenty years and are thus rich in knowledge concerning tourists' imaginings of themselves. They are therefore not only highly competent in playing to those imaginings, but they are also able to play with them by engaging in ironic performances and caricatures of the tourists' images of them (Tucker 2002; 2003). In comparison, the women of Goreme are relatively isolated in the confinement of their tourism entrepreneurial activities to domestic space and hence are far less able to acquire knowledge of tourist culture. This discussion highlights the importance of access to 'touristic knowledge' and the associated ability to anticipate tourist desire. The paper thus raises issues concerning the politics of success in the tourist-local encounter, the commodification of tourist interaction and also the ethnographer's place in this touristic milieu.

Author:

Jennifer Iles (University of London, Roehampton)

Paper short abstract:

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Paper long abstract:

The First World War is now almost beyond the reach of living memory, yet it continues to wield a profound fascination over the modern imagination. The Western Front in Belgium and France in particular, which was the decisive theatre of operations for the Allied troops, has created its own iconic representation and mythology and has retained a firm place in British modern memory.

This paper proposes that tourists are required to use their imaginations and emotions in order to construct an empathic and historical connection to the symbolic, commemorative spaces of the Western Front landscape. Four years of fighting over the same areas of ground left millions of servicemen dead and a devastated landscape. Today, though, the rolling and unremarkable topography of the region has now almost completely obscured the momentous nature of the battles fought across the terrain. Yet in a landscape characterised by emptiness and absence, there is a constant stream of thousands of tourists who are drawn to visit the former battlefields every year. Many of the people who travel to the battlefields are repeat visitors, attracted to its highly evocative dimensions, or in the words of Edmund Blunden, it's "peculiar grace". For some, the region has become a kind of nostalgic "home from home", and their trips enable them to physically enact a sense of historical connection with a place associated with an imagined collective past, untarnished by the values of contemporary society. This paper will also explore the tensions that exist in a foreign landscape which remains redolent with British historical association. From time to time, however, there are flashpoints between visitors who are identifying with a terrain soaked with the exclusive memory of their own social identities and losses, and the present day needs and wishes of the local population. While for the visitors this is a sacred landscape full of memory, for the hosts, this is often a mundane, day-to-day working landscape which they see as being nothing special, hence its contested nature. My discussion draws on continuing ethnographic fieldwork carried out on the battlefield sits of the former Ypres Salient and Somme regions of the Western Front.

Authors:

Hilary Orange (University College, London)
Patrick Laviolette (Tartu Univ.)

Paper short abstract:

We address the public's imagination at Tintagel, whereby initial tourist preconceptions about Arthurian legends are rarely enlightened by the visit. Do most people engage with ephemeral features such as the senses, spiritualism and Celticity or simply absorb re-constructive myths of the site's past?

Paper long abstract:

"Welcome to Tintagel, the birthplace of King Arthur" is a phrase often repeated at this small village on the North coast of Cornwall. Myth, childhood stories, shop signs and merchandise all serve to attract thousands of visitors a year - who arrive with great expectations and anticipation of a place which is both real and imaginary. As 'a place to go', the area provides stunning coastal scenery, a visually romantic ruined castle and a highly commercialised village. Tintagel Island, the English Heritage run site, plays central stage as the 'birthplace' in question. On site, the character of Arthur is largely debunked as literary phenomena and without adequate presentation of the local history or archaeology many visitors are left in an interpretive limbo - complaining of a high entrance charge or reluctant to let go of childhood memories and anticipated identity of place.

Whilst the aesthetics of the Castle and scenery go some way towards mitigating against intellectual (or economic) disappointment on site, we argue that despite the seemingly ocular emphasis of the tourist experience, mediated by discursive and literary media, a more embodied experience of 'being there' is possible. Here encounters with kitsch representations of the past combine with more amorphous senses of pseudo-spiritual atmospheres as well as experiences of walking, eating and drinking to ultimately provide a 'grand day out' for many which is perceived as a fairly cohesive package of Celtic-Arthuriana. This paper therefore questions the way in which collective memory, expectation and imagination mediate through an embodied experience of place.

Author:

Katja Neves (Concordia University)

Paper long abstract:

This paper builds on ethnographic data gathered in the Azores (Portugal) from 1998 to 2006) in the whaling village of Lajes do Pico. It scrutinizes the many expectations that whale watching tourists hold prior to whale watching trips in regards to whales and dolphins. More particularly, the paper describes several constructs through which cetaceans, as well as human-cetacean encounters, are imagined and anticipated. The paper shows how these expectations are greatly influenced by western myths, whaler stories such as Moby Dick, Hollywood movies, and TV series. Finally, the paper analyzes the extent to which these imaginary worlds become part of human-cetacean encounters, and the many ways in which they variously promote or inhibit an, experiential, aesthetically based understanding of human-environmental relations.