Travelling to Peru : representation, identity and place in British long-haul tourism
This thesis focuses on contemporary British travellers visiting Peru. It examines the investments in and uses of long-haul travel in the construction and narration of self-identity, in particular exploring the relationship between representations of place, travel practices and identities. Using literatures based in post-colonial theory and tourism studies, the thesis argues for the contribution which a study of the desires of 'First World' consumers can make to the wider project of understanding and intervening in tourism's socio-economic role in the modern world. The qualitative methodologies used in the thesis reflect the need to conceptualise tourists as actively constructing the 'imaginative geographies' of tourism. The use of both participant observation at tourist sites in Peru, and a series of in-depth interviews with returned travellers, provide an account of the important role of travel in the participants lives and the consequences for their travel practices. The empirical research undertaken for the thesis shows that travel is an important part of the ongoing construction of an 'autobiography' of the self by the travellers who took part in the project. In particular travel practices are associated with, and used to narrate, a sense of living a fulfilled life. The projects of travel to Peru are based in an 'authorisation' of travel as set of practices which provide 'direct' and 'unmediated' access to spatial difference, such as the 'authentic' Peru. In their material travel practices in Peru, travellers therefore have a very clear sense of the 'proper conduct' which they have to enact on the ground if they are to achieve this sense of fulfilment. The thesis concludes that by understanding the 'fetishisations' of place invested in by travellers, studies of tourist consumption open up new spaces for thinking about and intervening in the politics of travel.