Setting out with dreams of home: German tourists in the Australian desert
AffiliationThe Australian Centre
Department of Resource Management and Geography
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsPaschen, J-A. (2009). Setting out with dreams of home: German tourists in the Australian desert. PhD thesis, The Australian Centre and Department of Resource Management and Geography, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2009 Dr. Jana-Axinja Paschen
This thesis investigates German tourists’ encounters with the Australian desert from an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective. Bringing together theories and methodologies from fields such as human geography, tourism studies, psychoanalysis and cultural analysis, it explores how touristic subject formation is embedded in material and symbolic landscapes and places; that is, how such encounters are influenced by both sensual experiences and specific cultural settings. By integrating the representational perspective of cultural analysis with approaches from non-representational theory, the analysis of individual tourist experiences and performances contributes to a productive dialogue between these two theoretical positions. In thus offering a more inclusive understanding of tourist subjectivities and the tourist encounter, this thesis addresses the need to advance the study of the more-than-representational geographies of tourism. The cross-cultural perspective engages with different understandings of human-environment relationships – arising from the German, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian cultural backgrounds – and applies these in the study of tourist encounters in Australia. An examination of the literatures of human geography and tourism studies establishes an understanding of the tourist as a socialised and embodied human subject rather than merely a consumer category. Drawing also on contributions from anthropology, philosophy, and cultural and literary studies, I argue that identity and subjectivity are constituted in the complex and dynamic networks of cultural images and socio-political relations as well as individual, embodied encounters with places. In an expanded reading of the hero’s quest as a cultural model, the tourist journey is analysed in the terms of a ‘postmodern quest’ that initiates the cumulative processes of identity formation that happen in tourist encounters. The notion of the encounter is based in the principles of non-representational theory and is employed to extend the analysis by the performative, embodied and affective dimensions of spatialised identity formation. In order to capture the multifaceted dimensions of touristic Self‐place encounters, a number of methodological approaches were used. The focus was on qualitative and interpretive data collection using semi‐structured and in‐depth interviews, participant observation and questionnaires. A second set of data is represented by cultural texts, such as filmic and literary texts, mythical imagery and tourist representation. Moreover, the nature of the tourist encounter and this thesis’ argument – that tourist subjectivities are constituted in spatially, culturally and individually distinctively placed encounters – required fine-grained analysis of individual case studies. Developing the notion of the body’s posture in space and using phenomenological models such as that of wayfinding and the quest, I apply these expanded concepts of subjectivity in my case studies of German tourists in Australia to understand their experiences within their specific cultural and material contexts. The analysis explores processes of knowledge production and the various kinds of subjectivities these create. It illustrates how Self and identity are constantly (re)assembled in the tourist encounter, generating a notion of a hybridised subjectivity that is at once mobile and emplaced. In presenting close investigations of individual tourist encounters within distinct cultural and geographical contexts, this thesis develops an original methodology that furthers the understanding of postmodern subjectivity through an emplaced analysis of embodied and culturally situated subjectivities.
Keywordscultural geography; landscape; tourism; cross-cultural identity; home; non-representational theory
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