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The Threatened Paradise: Tourism on a Greek Island
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is about attitudes and practices of foreign tourists in Ólymbos, a village in the north of the Greek island of Kárpathos. Based upon several periods of fieldwork from 1999 to 2005, it focuses on the discomfort with tourism and the tourist role which is shared by many holidaymakers, and which also can be found in various types of representations of the area. The fact that these ‘anti-tourist’ notions are so prominent in Ólymbos has partially to do with the special character of the village, and with the development of tourism in itself. Until the end of the 1980s Kárpathos received relatively few, mostly independently travelling tourists, often returning year after year. Especially the secluded north of the island was the more or less exclusive domain of foreign visitors appreciating its ‘off the beaten track’ and ‘traditional’ character. Since then mass tourism has slowly been encroaching, with Ólymbos becoming a sightseeing attraction.

The analysis of different tourist activities illustrates, moreover, tourism’s significance as an arena for the confirmation and display of lifestyles, and for the reproduction of ‘social distinctions’ among vacationers and other ‘voluntary strangers’. ‘Anti-tourism’ – trying to demonstrate to oneself and others that one is not a ‘tourist’ by, among other things, overtly criticizing tourism and tourists – is a way of confirming one’s self-image as ‘non-tourist’, and of boosting one’s prestige in the eyes of others. This is not only a matter of verbally displaying attitudes; it is also a question of role-playing. One result of this study is that an important anti-tourist role model in places like Ólymbos is ‘the resident’, rather than ‘the traveller’.

Putting the case of ‘anti-tourism’ among the foreign visitors to northern Kárpathos into further theoretical context, the thesis discusses the importance of the strong anti-tourist current in Western culture. It is argued that Romanticism, with its idealized individualism, its rejection of modern mass society, its nostalgic yearning for the past, and its fascination with exotic ‘counterworlds’, is a key to the paradoxes of tourism and the source of its self-contradictory illusions, as well as a vital link between ‘anti-tourism’ and anthropology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi , 2006. , 392 p.
Dissertations and documents in cultural anthropology : DICA, ISSN 1653-0543 ; 8
Keyword [en]
Cultural anthropology, Greece, Kárpathos, tourism, anti-tourism, tourist typologies, repeat vacationing, tour guides, host-guest relations, festivals, guidebooks, tourist media, Orientalism, lifestyles, social distinctions, Romanticism, nostalgia
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
Cultural Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-7223ISBN: 91-506-1900-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-7223DiVA: diva2:169151
Public defence
2006-12-07, Geijersalen, Engelska parken, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2006-11-15 Created: 2006-11-15 Last updated: 2009-03-19Bibliographically approved

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