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The worst tourists in the world: Gangsters, heterotopia and the space of global capital In Bruges

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Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges (2008) has generated a substantive body of literature that investigates the collision it stages between the conventions of the travelogue and the conventions of the crime narrative. This criticism, however, does not address the way in which Bruges itself is produced and positioned as socio-economic space. This article argues that In Bruges first constructs and then deconstructs the eponymous city as a heterotopia and, in doing so, sheds light on the common heterotopic qualities of both touristic and illegal spaces. More important, the operations of the narrative produce Bruges as a node in an undifferentiated space of global capital, whose primary characteristic is that of criminality.
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Keywords: crime film; film tourism; heritage cities; heterotopia; transnational space; travelogue

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Marymount Manhattan College

Publication date: 01 September 2014

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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