Cultural pillages of the leisure class? : consuming expressions of identity.
Tavener-Smith, Kieran David.
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Society ‘obscures itself’ by presenting a world that is self-contained and logical (Barthes, 1973) – a world underpinned by a transparency of its underlying systems of meaning. This formulation maps the theoretical location of the dissertation, by which an investigation into tourism, as an economic and political expression of contemporary culture, occurs. More specifically, the dissertation addresses the type of tourism that bisects narratives of history and of cultures – that popularly described under the label of cultural tourism. Thus it employs an array of critical tourism and cultural theory, to offer an exposition on how best to understand the articulation of meaning in the consumption of ‘place’, formations of heritage and Otherness. The study also explores the epistemological nature/agendas of the so-called ‘Image of Africa’ and the ‘Absolute Other’, and how these are recycled in the parameters of modernity. Using a genealogical approach to studying discursive formations articulating some kind of Zulu Otherness, the dissertation grounds these conventions of identity predominantly in the symbolic practice of a colonial Western society. This exposes the arbitrary, constructed nature by which contemporary society governs itself. Methodologically, the research applies participant observation and semiotic analyses, predominantly in the cultural/filmic village of Shakaland, near Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, to explore how the constructions of identity manifest and are negotiated and consumed in the activity of this tourism.