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Mass tourism as cultural trauma: An analysis of the Majorcan comics Els darrers dies de l’Imperi Mallorquí (2014) and Un infern a Mallorca (La decadència de l’Imperi Mallorquí) (2018)

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The Mediterranean island of Majorca has been a popular tourist resort since the late 1950s. While the model of mass tourism has been a subject of various unremitting sociopolitical controversies on the island, the swelling number of visiting tourists in recent years has increased anxieties about the sociocultural and environmental impact of touristification processes. Drawing upon studies of cultural trauma, this article argues that the comics Els darrers dies de l’Imperi Mallorquí (The Last Days of the Majorcan Empire) (2014) and its sequel, Un infern a Mallorca (La decadència de l’Imperi Mallorquí) (Hell in Majorca [The Decadence of the Majorcan Empire]) (2018), represent the advent of mass tourism on the island as the trigger of a sudden, comprehensive, unexpected and polarizing episode of social change that has profoundly transformed the sociocultural tissue of Majorcan society and the island’s landscape and territory. Both comics depict these socio-environmental crises as cultural crises and therefore suggest the possibility that the experience of cultural trauma has occurred in the island’s recent history. As the article shows, the comic form turns out to be highly qualified to portray the sense of cultural disorientation resulting from the traumatic experience, and to dialogue with the quasi-apocalyptic imagery circulated by emerging grassroots movements against mass tourism on the island. The article further suggests that such a highly critical portrayal of tourism-oriented dynamics should be read vis-à-vis the growing concerns about overtourism in Europe and beyond.
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Keywords: Majorca; Mediterranean; Spain; cultural trauma; mass tourism; overtourism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Exeter

Publication date: July 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Studies in Comics aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address the medium's formal properties. The emerging field of comics studies is a model for interdisciplinary research and in this spirit this journal welcomes all approaches. This journal is international in scope and provides an inclusive space in which researchers from all backgrounds can present new thinking on comics to a global audience. The journal will promote the close analysis of the comics page/text using a variety of methodologies. Its specific goal, however, is to expand the relationship between comics and theory and to articulate a "theory of comics". The journal also includes reviews of new comics, criticism, and exhibitions, and a dedicated online space for cutting-edge and emergent creative work.

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