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Performing Sites: Illusion and Authenticity in the Spatial Stories of the Guided Tour

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This paper is concerned with the active construction of site enacted by the performances of the guided tour. Acknowledging that sites are not just “read” and visited by tour groups, but also “written” and performed, guided tours are recognised as part of the performative relational processes that continually create sites. Following the geographer Doreen Massey, sites are understood as a “simultaneity of stories-so-far” which include the representations and practices of the tour itself. In academic writing on tourism per se, the illusion/authenticity debate has been widely discussed, but this has yet to be given adequate attention regarding the specific situation of the guided tour. The article suggests that in buying into the illusions of the tourist industry, and accepting the spatial stories that the guide performs, tourists are often making active choices about how they engage with the site. Nevertheless, the choices that are made in performance are powerful spatial practices that actively construct the sites that are toured.

Keywords: Guided tours; authenticity; illusion; performance; space

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, UK

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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