EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P068)
Imaginaries, media and tourism
Location SO-E413
Date and Start Time 14 Aug, 2018 at 10:30
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Nelson Graburn (University of California, Berkeley) email
  • Isabelle Boof-Vermesse (University of Lille) email

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Short abstract

This panel seeks research on the new ways tourist imaginaries are constructed and exchanged, with a focus on new forms of ritualized mediation (like the social media) emphasizing increased participation and feedback, in commercial as well as in personal communications.

Long abstract

Tourism imaginaries, as repositories of perceptions, experiences, anticipations and prescriptions, are themselves engaged in the movement of circulation that tourism is all about . Shared images and narratives about places as attractions and destinations, they have been transmitted through word of mouth, education, literature, newspapers, art, and photography , as well as through film, television, comics (manga and comics). Their contemporary distribution is largely through electronic media, web sites, and especially social media, both as commercial products and personal feedback. Contemporary tourism involves new rituals of exchange . Early anthropological of imaginaries focused more on their origins, contents and nature especially as applied to alterity, and on intermediaries such as tour guides, rather than on the types, constraints and effects of the mass media.

This panel solicits cross-cultural and global research papers on the contemporary roles of different media in the construction and dissemination of tourism imaginaries. Media may transmit informational or entertaining scenes and stories, or may be commercially and politically promotional with stereotypic messages tailored to special cultural, age and genders groups. Personal media, with nearly two billion users, may influence individual and group relations, though feedback to the commercial realm has also been burgeoning in the past fifteen years. The conflict between contradictory reports about the same places warrants careful attention in a context of awareness of "fake news."

Recently the mass media have also been warning against "overtourism" itself, which suggests the need to revise and reconstruct the function and image of tourism; what comes next ?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Feast and fantasy: Macao imaginaries on the official tourism website

Author: Marisa C. Gaspar (Universidade de Lisboa (ISEG-ULisboa) ) email
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Short abstract

Macao is mostly attractive due to its gambling market. However, the city government is seeking alternative directions and creating new tourism imaginaries, such as a culinary heritage. To understand how this is been done, it is crucial to acknowledge how the city is represented and perceived online.

Long abstract

On November 2017, the Macao Special Administrative Region, China, had joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in the field of gastronomy. The application led by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR, along with the Macao Tourism Office, with the support of China central government, was assumed as an additional powerful international branding to the city's portfolio that already includes its Historic Centre in the list of World Heritage. Preparation works and submission process, and the effective admission of Macao into the UCCN had an intensive coverage by the social media and were displayed in a variety of web information sources. Macao's government has since been the major promoter of local unique culture and heritage, and of Macanese cuisine as one of the region's main touristic attractions. As a product of this strategy, Macao tourism official website (MTOW) has also become one of the most significant means on the internet of advertising Macao as an international city with abundant cultural resources and modern facilities that has to offer much beyond just gaming.

This paper focuses, using content analysis, on the role of the MTOW in the construction of culinary tourism imaginaries, with regard to: How is it directly influencing the perceived gastronomic image of the Macao SAR and creating a virtual experience for culinary tourists? In which ways it is using Macao's title of a creative city of gastronomy as a distinct element of its hybrid heritage to diversify tourism's origin and promote cultural consumption?

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Building Visibility, Touring the Nation

Author: Arlindo Horta (CRIA/ISCTE-IUL/NOVA-FCSH) email
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Short abstract

Visibility has devolved into a significant, and ubiquitous, contemporary capital. This paper explores its continuous performance in the context of place-making rethoric within a famous portuguese TV show that travels across the territory.

Long abstract

This paper, based on current research, builds upon the idea of "visibility" as a significant contemporary capital (Dayan 2013, Heinich 2012, Szendy 2017).

"Somos Portugal" ("We Are Portugal") is a popular mainstream tv show, aired live every Sunday afternoon from a different place every week. It travels across the portuguese territory and it features popular music, videos promoting the region and interviews with local protagonists - ranging from local administration to local food producers, musicians and artisans. It's usually associated with local festivals and events which participate in the emblematization of specific items from those places. It is also a display of what is, nowdays, considered "popular culture" according to notions of a cosmopolitan elite.

Based on ethnography conducted among the program's production team, this paper aims to analyze contemporary mechanisms that produce visibility, exploring the symbiotic ties between these local fairs and events and the circulation of this kind of tv shows. It will also address the connections between the need for this continuous performance of being visible and the inscription of these places in contemporary touristic circuits; the emergence of gastronomy as a central performative element in the fruition of these places; and the traffic of nationalist imaginaries among the political and the economic realms in the central mass media, in contrast with localist discourses and representations that refer to ideas of place-making within an imagined space-world.

Travel Celebrities and New Media Travel Culture in South Korea

Author: Minyoung Lee (Seoul National University) email
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Short abstract

This paper shows the way how 'travel celebrities' appear and the 'new media travel culture' are formed to understand the new formational mechanism of tourist culture in Korea. New media function as tools to accumulate 'travel capital', and emotional images, ritual plays about travel are spread.

Long abstract

This paper shows the way how 'travel celebrities' appear and the 'new media travel culture' are formed to understand the new formational mechanism of tourist culture in Korea. I did participatory observation in 1) 'trip platform' which is a platform travel agency making and selling travel packages of 'travel mates' who are more friend-like tour leaders, 2) 'trip school' which plans and sells lectures about know-hows and knowledge of travelling, and 3) 'trip planet' which is a travel podcast made by a major broadcasting company in Korea. Working as a tour leader, travel lecturer, broadcasting planner and host, I met many travel celebrities and figured out the patterns of the market. Many wanna-be travel celebrities use blog, facebook, instagram, YouTube, podcast and etc.. to boast about their stories of leaving stable jobs and travelling around the world. Becoming more influential, they write books, appear on television, radio, take pictures of advertisements of tourism bureaus and goods, and sell their own travel packages. Travelling is becoming rites of passages, and travel celebrity is becoming a dream job to many young people. Travel new media function as tools to accumulate 'travel capital', and resultingly, emotional images and ritual plays about travel destinations and travel itself are spread.

The stalker's way. Between reality and virtuality of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Author: Magdalena Banaszkiewicz (Jagiellonian University) email
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Short abstract

The project investigates the role played by the stalkers (illegal visitors) in presenting dissonant heritage of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Despite the fact, that they are in general against mass tourism, they contribute greatly to its development by influencing on tourism imaginaries.

Long abstract

The aim of the project is to investigate the role played by the stalkers in presenting dissonant heritage of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Along with a significant increase in the number of visitors to the site in recent years, the place is being gradually touristified, which raises many question and concerns. Additionally to the legal, "mainstream" tours, organized by the local companies with the suppoert of the Zone's management, there is a growin number of those who enter the site illegally. This illegal visitors, labelling themselves as "stalkers" in majority represents the antitourism stance. The significant impact on the popularity of their activity have social media (open/closed interest groups) and personal websites (such as blogs). Despite the fact, that they are in general against mass tourism, they contribute greatly to its development by influencing on tourism imaginaries. The study and tries to characterize main features of this engagement and the ways in which they kindle the imagination. Simultaneously, the paper examines how anthropology of tourism combines traditional for the discipline methods (such as in-depth interviews and observation) with netnography.

Shedding light on different readings of India

Author: Cecilia Bastos (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) email
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Short abstract

Analysing the speech of travellers and different narratives presented in several sources which assemble the "mystic" and/or "spiritual" as main elements in their accounts, I investigate the notion of a "spiritual" India based on the idea of the discourse as a social construction.

Long abstract

Aiming to understand how representations of India are socially constructed, I analyse the discourse of travellers and also different narratives presented in several sources (websites, travel newspapers and magazines, books, guidebooks and travel agencies) which assemble the "mystic" and/or "spiritual" as main elements in their accounts. India is typically presented as a place where people can "experience the sacred," where it is possible to "reconnect" or "find oneself;" the attraction being sold is the possibility to have an internal trip, in which there is a possibility to know your "Self" better by experiencing interaction with this spiritual culture. I understand this type of speech to be a sign of the image constructed by social agents who have as their aim the "broadcasting of the Indian culture." As people participate in multiple universes of discourses, they construct diverse partial and simultaneous worlds in which they move; their cultural construction of reality springs from multiple sources, implying discourses can come to mean a myriad of things as they cannot be controlled as they are obviously contested and appropriated when inside public arenas. Accordingly, I investigate the notion of a spiritual India based on the idea of the discourse as a social construction, acknowledging that the constitution of touristic destinations always involves the construction of narratives and representations oriented in its differentiation in a global context of strong competition.

Guides of the Atlas - Tourism, or: The Challenge of Scope in Moroccan Mountains

Author: Simon Holdermann (University of Cologne) email
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Short abstract

In the Moroccan High Atlas social status, political and economic influence that were once reserved for saints, shifted to tourist guides. Tourism presents itself as a resource and strategy, but at the same time also as a challenge of scope that actors try to overcome with new media technologies.

Long abstract

In the Moroccan High Atlas, tourism constitutes a promising resource for actively shaping one's own future. On the one hand, successful touristic entrepreneurs invoke predominant imaginaries, which are mostly digitally mediatized and widely circulated. In order to increase one' s own scope, the use of new media technologies is crucial, through which existing networks can be maintained and new cooperations forged. On the other, for the locals that engage in tourism practices and discourses it is not so much about imaginaries, but rather about aspirations. Even more, it is about actively 'making the conditions of staying' in an otherwise demanding environment - especially regarding job opportunities or medical care.

The combination of ethnographic research with historiographic accounts reveals the continuing significance of visitors for the region as well as social and infrastructural transformations. In his seminal ethnography, Ernest Gellner (1969) described the exceptional role of religious leaders, or saints, in the High Atlas. They functioned as arbitrators, accommodated guests and administered religious heritage or access to pastures, thus, consolidated the region as 'center out there'. While the history, cultural identity and holy lineages continue to be of great importance for the region -and its tourism-, there has been a radical change. Today, the saints vanished and various secular forms of tourism largely replace pilgrims and visitors with religious purpose. The prestige and status that once were reserved for the saints shifted to mountain guides. Consequently there has been a change of what counts as meaningful, politically influential and socio-economically profitable.

Playful photography: Travel selfies with smartphone and social media

Author: Sumei Wang (National Chegnchi University) email
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Short abstract

Using methods of ethnography, the paper investigates the playful experiences of taking travel selfies. Through the circulation of images on social media, photography itself becomes the purpose of travel, rather than means of event-recording, which may have changed the meanings of tourism.

Long abstract

Photography has been crucial in constituting the nature of traveling in the modern times. Tourists have a compulsion to photograph. So that they could turn experience itself into a way of seeing. However, the emergent technologies, including smartphones and social media, have foregrounded the practices of photo-taking, remaking, distribution and management. Through the representation and circulation of images on social media, photography itself becomes the purpose of travel, rather than a means of event-recording.

This research employs the methods of mobile and online ethnography to investigate the interactions among the physical space, the travelers, and the virtual space on social media. We followed eleven participants on their tours and observed their photo taking and sharing practices. The creating, adjusting, managing, remixing of photos of the tourists and landmarks do not just record the users' preferences but enable imaginations for other travelers. Further, we notice that the playful practices of making travel selfies may change the meanings of travel.

When one travels, physical location is revealed on virtual spaces, which also bring friends at distance to the present. This new relation, afforded by both smartphones and social media, also foregrounds photography as playful, communicative, and performative practices. For some travelers, making and sharing photos are more crucial than seeing the scenery. Therefore, it is not for seizing the moment or capturing the scene that people take photograph with their smartphones. To some extent, it could be that tours are arranged in order to enjoy the playful experiences of photography.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.