Tourism and National Identity in Scotland

29 July 2014

Last month we published Kalyan Bhandari’s book Tourism and National Identity. Here Kalyan gives us some background to the book.

Tourism and National IdentityIt is imperative that I explain the background that has shaped this study and the reason for this book. The materials in this book are based on my doctoral research. The topic was conceived slightly earlier during my MLitt programme in Tourism, Heritage and Development at the University of Glasgow. The first few weeks of the MLitt programme immersed me in Scottish history and culture and I realised that there was a deeper interaction of tourism with the Scottish nation as the touristic heritage of Scotland persistently represented its cultural identity, national image and distinctive characteristics.

I wanted to pursue this area more and in the middle of my MLitt course I transferred to a PhD programme. I felt I could be more objective as I am from Nepal, a country that has no colonial relation with the United Kingdom. In Nepal, the United Kingdom is understood as a unitary entity and the existence of other ‘national’ units within the UK is largely unknown. Thus, the interpretation in this book is informed by my background as a Nepali national and my perception of the UK until coming to Scotland for my postgraduate studies.

My question in this book is:  What role does tourism play in the imagining of the Scottish nation in contemporary Scotland? This question is informed by two important considerations: i) that tourist sites are socio-cultural constructions and different tourism regions, spaces and sites may produce different narratives for tourists; ii) that not all tourism sites or images and icons run a single discourse, as each touristic region or area is different from others in terms of the history it represents and the image and icons they are associated with. I was aware that many people believe the image of Scotland in tourism is unfairly tilted towards one region, the Scottish Highlands, and that this has resulted in a highly stereotyped identity of Scotland favouring this region. Thus, in this book I have chosen the relatively less known southwest and the central belt as my field.

The choice of the southwest region was largely informed by my own home experience. I come from that part of Nepal which is not strongly connected with the popular tourism areas of Nepal. The region does not fit within the stereotypical image of Nepal and is considered largely neglected in terms of tourism development. This correlates strongly to the southwest region of Scotland. In terms of academic orientation, my previous post-graduate qualification in sociology has greatly shaped this book.  However, this work was conducted whilst based in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies of the University of Glasgow and I was constantly interacting with scholars whose disciplinary backgrounds were varied. These facts have strongly influenced my approach in this book.

If you would like more information about the book please see our website.


The relationship between tourism texts and society

20 March 2014

In February, we published Sabrina Francesconi’s book Reading Tourism Texts in our Tourism and Cultural Change series. Here, Sabrina gives us some further background to the book.

After ten years of academic research and teaching in the field of tourism and travel texts, I really felt the necessity of sharing a conceptual and methodological framework for the approach to authentic domain-specific instances.

Reading Tourism TextsTheoretically, I needed to question and challenge simplistic and biased distinctions between travellers and tourists, and, in turn, between tourism texts and travel literature. As revealed in everyday life and communication, their relation is less dichotomic and more fluid than thought.

As for method, I looked for analytical tools enabling to encompass meaning-making strategies beyond verbal code.  Acknowledging multimodality as a pivotal source of expression and semiosis in tourism discourse, Reading Tourism Texts provides methodological tools for the analysis of interconnected visual, the verbal and aural systems.

Authentic tourist pictures, logos, brochures, blogs, radio programmes and commercials, webpages, wikis, videos and postcards are questioned as case studies in their meaning-making dynamics. Instances are taken from the English-speaking world, ranging from England to Malta, through Canada and New Zealand, India and Ireland, Jamaica and South Africa.

I really hope this volume is of interest to students and researchers in Tourism Studies, Communication Studies, Media Studies, Applied Linguistics and ESP and to stakeholders in tourism.

If you’re interested in this book you find out more information about it on our website.


Tourism and Souvenirs

10 July 2013

This month we published Tourism and Souvenirs by Jenny Cave, Lee Jolliffe and Tom Baum. We asked Jenny to tell us a little about her inspiration for the book.

Tourism and SouvenirsSouvenirs mark the identity of travellers and are ubiquitous ways that people share their experiences of travel with others, whether they are purchased at home to take to travel destinations or are purchased away from home. My background in heritage, museums and operational realities of the cultural industries has meant that I have developed an interest in material culture, which I share with my co-editors Lee Jolliffe and Tom Baum. I am also a weaver and come from a family of artist/producers so that this interest in material heritage crystallises around the challenges earning an income based in cultural and local natural resources.

As lead editor I also share some common academic interests and backgrounds with my co-editors. Both Lee Jolliffe and I are graduates of the Masters of Museum Studies (formerly Masters of Museology) at the University of Toronto (Canada). Lee and I share a common interest with Tom Baum in Island Studies and tourism, and I had the opportunity to visit Lee in both New Brunswick and Barbados to start some joint research there on souvenir purchases by cruise passengers, which while not specifically reported on in the book, influenced the development of my own co-authored chapter on souvenirs at a New Zealand Cruise port.

My co-editors, Lee Jolliffe and Tom Baum and I have worked with the developmental aspirations of many cultural communities around the world so have experienced first-hand the complex phenomenon of souveniring production, marketing, distribution and purchase processes. The unique glocal focus of the volume is a logical extension of our collective experience and profoundly different significations that are born of local and global place and identity, yet there are also commonalties when you compare locations and cultures. Tom’s participation in the project was pivotal to extending the reach of the research into the hospitality arena and in framing the concepts in the initial chapter.

Personally, as lead editor I felt that it was important to raise the unconsciously expressed mutual influences that tourist purchasers and producers have on each other. Further, I wanted to get beneath the surficial view of souvenirs and repeated emphasis on a handful of key authors that appear in this literature, and to push the boundaries of understanding of the tourism as a sustainable industry, exploring this issue through the lens of souvenirs, providing a new foundation for future research.

For more information on Jenny’s book click here and if you found the subject of this book interesting you might also like other books in the Tourism and Cultural Change series.


An Interview with Hazel Andrews

6 June 2011

We have just published The British on Holiday by Hazel Andrews. It is the first full length ethnography of charter tourists and uses tourism as a vehicle to explore issues of current social importance. It focuses on charter tourists in the resorts of Palmanova and Magaluf on the Mediterranean Island of Mallorca. We caught up with Hazel and asked her a few questions about her research.

What first attracted you to the study of British tourists in Mallorca?
When I was studying for my MA the argument that tourism is a search for difference was often discussed in the literature. I had the opportunity to visit Mallorca for quite a different project based on the sustainable tourism policies in the municipality of Calvià, this gave me a view of what was happening in charter tourism and it didn’t seem to be very much about the idea of difference to me. So I was interested to find out more about what this particular group of tourists were looking for and how that relates to how they view themselves and their place in the world.

What makes your book different from others that have been published before?
I use tourism as a means to explore sociocultural issues relating to how people understand who they are and make sense of their world. It is based on a micro level study of touristic practices involving the use of participant observation. As such the book contains lots of information about tourists and tourism but also links to broader academic debates about social constructions of identity and how these are articulated.

Which researchers in your field have particularly inspired you?
I think that the influences on my work are quite eclectic and are drawn from both within the study of tourism and the wider social sciences so inspiration comes from all sorts of different work and people. In formulating a theoretical approach I have been inspired by the works of Pierre Bourdieu and the anthropology of Michael Jackson in particular. Tom Selwyn has also been a great inspiration not just in terms of theory but also in terms of pursuing ideas and practice based on important academic and educational values. Cathy Palmer and Monica Hanefors have also been sources of inspiration in their work about tourists.

As a tourism academic you must get to travel to some exotic locations. Where is the most unusual place you have travelled to for work?
I probably do less travelling than people imagine but when I do travel, exotic or not, I approach each new place with interest.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing books?
I enjoy being with my family, reading books by Alexander McCall Smith and watching Scandinavian detective programmes.

What are your plans for future research?
I am currently co-editing a book about liminal landscapes and will also be producing another book on the connection between tourism and violence.  I would like to develop the liminal landscapes work further with a project about beaches and to continue my research about constructions of identity in relation to UK produced tourism marketing material. I am keen to develop more work around tourists that involves an ethnographic approach.  I’m also sure that there’s more work to be done in Mallorca.


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