• There and Back Again: Mobilising Tourist Imaginaries at the Tower of London

    Matthew Hughes (see profile)
    Cultural property, English--Study and teaching, Museums--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    University College London
    Anthropology of Tourism, Heritage management, tourism imaginaries, Tower of London, visitor research, Behavioral anthropology, Cultural anthropology, Cultural heritage, English studies, Museum studies
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    Tourist sites are amalgams of competing and complimentary narratives that dialectically circulate and imbue places with meaning. Widely held tourism narratives, known as tourist imaginaries, are manifestations of ‘shared mental life’ (Leite 2014, 268) by tourists, would-be tourists, and not-yet tourists prior to, during, and after the tourism experience. This dissertation investigates those specific pre-tour understandings that inform tourists’ expectations and understandings of place prior to visiting. Looking specifically at the Tower of London, I employ content and discourse analysis alongside ethnographic field methods to identify the predominant tourist imaginaries of the Tower of London, trace their circulation and reproduction, and ultimately discuss their impact on visitor experience at the Tower. Leite (2014) argues that exceptionally dominant tourist imaginaries have the ability to eclipse competing narratives and effectively block out alternative experiences by creating an overdetermined tourist experience. I argue that a visit to the Tower of London is overdetermined by the prevalence of specific imaginary narrative constructions that leave little room for individuals to carve out their own unique experiences. This dissertation posits the idea that the confirmation of visitor expectations, which leads to satisfaction, is a necessary component to sustain and entrench hegemonic tourist imaginaries. This research traces the relative immobility of the tourist imaginaries at the Tower of London as a result of this process. Finally, this dissertation proposes key areas of study that are undervalued and underrepresented in the existing literature on tourist imaginaries.
    Dissertation completed in fulfillment of MA in Cultural Heritage Studies at University College London's Institute of Archaeology.
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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