China as an imaginal realm: a study of the representational framing of a nation in tourism
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AbstractOver recent decades, China has opened up to the wider world in a myriad of ways. By 2020 – a decade hence – it will be transformed from its scarcely-visited-1980s self, to become the most visited nation on earth. It is therefore important to gauge how China is being represented through the immensely-powerful signifying practices of tourism. Predicated on the view that reciprocal understanding between China (or ‘the East’) has never been high with ‘the West’, this critico-interpretive study explores how China is symbolized / projected via the meditative agency of tourism – that is, by a collaborative projective Leviathan, which predominantly authorizes via longstanding eurocentric visions. Industrially-scripted representations of tourism are inspected regarding their normalizing (Foucauldian) capacity to naturalise certain visions of China’s inheritances and drawcards whilst unrecognizing / denying others. Underpinned by the multiple-truth-cognisance of social constructivism (especially that of Lincoln and Cuba), this emergent study is based upon Kincheloean bricoleurship. Initially seeking to crystallize found representational repertoires of / about ‘China’ by the use of multiple methods, it becomes – following difficulties in finding decision-takers who were both China-aware and active in such acts of signification (who could be both interviewed and work-shadowed) – an inquiry rescaffolded as a multiple-data-set exploration of worldmaking discursivity. The investigation makes critical use of Nyiri’s recent examination of the Chinese government’s ortholalia (i.e., its cultural authority) in regulating what China is and how it should be staged / performed / projected, and of various newspress articles on the late soft power articulation of both the nation’s forty-centuries of ‘brilliant history’ and its ‘sudden modern vitality’. The inquiry progresses by condemning the general and ubiquitous inadequacy of the twin fields of Tourism Management / Tourism Studies to school either practitioners or researchers as Confucian-style organic intellectuals, able to comprehend the international economic foundations of tourism, yet also appreciate its deep cultural, political, and psychic rhizomata. It culminates in the development of an ‘organic intellectual’ research agenda (after Venn), signposted to direct immediate but longrun inspection of these Foucauldian / Confucian acts of the ongoing (?) normalized or compossible (cogenerative) worlding of China.
CitationHou, C. (2010) 'China as an imaginal realm: a study of the representational framing of a nation in tourism'. PhD Thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Bedfordshire
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