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Circulation and emplacement : the hollowed out performance of tourism.

Crang, M. A. (2006) 'Circulation and emplacement : the hollowed out performance of tourism.', in Travels in paradox : remapping tourism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 47-64.


There is a story of tourism geography that begins with measuring flows of people as they go through points. In practice then this means charting of the movement of people as they pass through specific places – a story of “bums on seats”, of number of overnight stays, durations of visits and distance travelled. This was then a geography of events - an event ontology of the measurable and visible. Emerging as a critique of this, so the story goes, is a geography of the construction of places through representations, a shaping of imagined landscapes. We should though quickly admit that this was not just a critique but also a reflexive recognition that the tourist industry was about precisely making and selling images. Perhaps the apotheosis of this is the “literary landscape” where, say, Britain is divided into Brontë country (west Yorkshire around Haworth), Austen Country (literary Hampshire as the local council has it), Lorna Doone Country (Exmoor), Hardy Country (Dorset) or more declassée Herriot Country (Yorkshire Dales around Thirsk), Heartbeat (North York Moors) or Catherine Cookson Country (South Tyneside), or to go further afield we might look at Anne of Green Gables (Prince Edward Island) or lately Captain Corelli’s Island (the Ionian Island of Kefalonia). Even this quick selection starts to indicate ambiguities where say films or TV series overcode books, which as we shall see themselves may lean on other sources. This chapter asks a little more about the instability of producing destinations. Firstly, in terms of deconstructing tourism as a signifying system. That is to see tourism as precisely a form of geography – literally earth writing – or to put it another way as inscribing meaning on to the earth. However, this vision of tourism inscribing meaning on the world, making the world as text, has limits. Both the semiological approach and the managerialist mapping of flows to destinations we might argue see tourism as being about structures and orders imposed upon the world. What both these approaches share is quite a strong sense that tourism makes places and those places are delimitable and definable – and that tourism occurs out there. They produce oddly fixed versions of the world for a mobile and fluid process. As Oakes and Minca note in this volume, the tendency is to see places defined by immobility and travel as something that happens in a sort of non-place between them. The chapter asks whether a refashioned sense of the eventfulness of tourism might enable us to tell stories that see places as more unstable, as themselves involving movement, and track circulation as a constitutive activity of representations. In other words, it is going to suggest that at issue are not just the representational strategies and structures that code places, but the ontological construction of places. That is it is not about the image of places as beheld by tourists, but rather the processes and practices of signification – where tourism takes up discourses and representations and uses them in ordering places, making meanings, making distinctions and thus making places through actions. It is not about what representations show so much as what they do. This picks up on accounts of the worldliness of texts and the textuality of world, but tries to find away around some of the static or synchronic structures of textual models. It addresses the ‘bleed through’ of ‘back here’ to ‘over there’ in overlaying and discordant geographies of social memory, personal memory and social structure.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher Web site:^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0742528766&thepassedurl=[thepassedurl]
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:20 November 2009
Date of first online publication:2006
Date first made open access:No date available

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