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Turkey, tourism and interpellated ‘westernness' : inscribing collective visitor subjectivity

Bryce, Derek (2012) Turkey, tourism and interpellated ‘westernness' : inscribing collective visitor subjectivity. Tourism Geographies, 14 (3). pp. 444-466. ISSN 1461-6688

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Abstract

That tourism’s representation of places in terms of the clichéd and the banal is a means to overcome consumer uncertainty is surely an unproblematic observation. Nonetheless it invites enquiry into those discourses circulating within the representing culture (the source of tourism demand) constitutive of the subject position that both reassures and is reassured. Turkey is frequently presented to potential consumers in a litany of familiar binaries (West/East, Europe/Asia, Modernity/History etc). A collective gaze is invited in which tourists may conceive of themselves as part of an abstract collectivity, that of interpellated ‘Western-ness’ or ‘European-ness’ continuously reiterating a wondrous encounter with the very idea of the East. In this respect, Turkey is deployed instrumentally as a discursive device, commodifying the self-designation of ‘Western-ness’. Therefore, the occupation of a European subject position in relation to the idea of the East is an ‘attraction’ offered to consumers of tourism in Turkey. Turkey’s position is quite singular in its categorisation as being functionally European, yet also site that articulates, in abstract terms, ‘Europe’s’ self-assigned cultural boundaries. The notion that the Orient exists as a self-confirming object for the West is a commonplace for those familiar with Edward Said’s critique of Orientalism. However, Turkey is utilised as a mechanism for the functioning of that discourse, rather than Orientalised in and of itself. That this occurs within a sphere of popular consumption such as tourism does not diminish its discursive potency in underwriting arbitrary notions of the civilisational patterning of the world.