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American Media Representations of China's Traditions and Modernity

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Most research on the touristic representations of peripheral countries has focused on former colonies of past imperial Western powers. This study attempts to extend colonialism and tourism studies by examining the American tourist gaze upon China, a country with a history of resistance to Western colonialism and dominance. A total of 60 travel articles published between 2000 and 2005 in six major American newspapers were analyzed. The emergent themes were interpreted within the framework of their colonial ideological underpinnings. The analysis revealed that China was represented in three major themes. While many descriptions were similar to other markedly colonial representations of oriental destinations, some were derogatory and imbued with ideological bias. These findings extend the study of colonialism in tourism as they show that conflicting political ideologies may overshadow the tourism media's tendency to praise destinations. Moreover, this study reinforces previous assertions that tourism reflects the dynamic power relations between nations as the complex representation reported here may arguably reflect the nature of contemporary US–China relations.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.

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