Oman from exploration to tourism : the images of the country in early travellers' tales, travelogues and travel brochures (1838-2001)
This thesis uses early travel accounts (1838-1959), travelogues (1996-2001) and travel brochures (2001) to investigate the image of Oman and its people in British travel texts. Although there have been a number of imagery studies within the field of tourism over the last two decades, they have been recently criticised by Gallarza et al. (2002) for their lack of theoretical orientation. This thesis is intended to be a modest step in addressing this criticism by re-appraising Said's well known work on Orientalism (1978) and works that foreshadowed it, by testing their political, theoretical and polemical propositions against detailed evidence to be found in case study evidence derived from close analysis of English texts on one country; Oman. The thesis investigates the extent to which these texts confirm/disconfirm Said's predominantly critical evaluation of Western (particularly British and French) representations of the east through the construct he calls 'Orientalism'. Through exploration of the imagery attached to Oman, this analysis is intended to contribute to the wider "Othering" debate in suggesting how people of a developing country are defined and gendered by people from developed ones. The thesis, which is based on three genres of travel texts, suggests a much more complex picture of the mechanisms of representations than Said (1978) suggests, showing, for example, that each textual category (travel book, travelogue, and brochure) had its own distinguishing variations in terms of ideological perspective, mode of address and substantive content. For example, political and imperial discourses were widely present in early travel accounts, while, by contrast, travelogue and travel brochure data were more constituted by discourses of consumerism and commerce, with residual I'olitical and imperial traces either silenced, muted or reconstituted as forms of nostalgia, or a depoliticised, sometimes, aestheticised, historic heritage. Moreover, although some early accounts contain negative denotations and connotations relating to Oman and its people that would support Said's broadly critical deconstruction of "Orientalism" as an ideological mechanism of control and appropriation, all three media representations, historical travel texts included, were far from presenting a uniform, or even predominant construction of Oman and its people that would support Said's critique. In two contextual chapters, this thesis appraIses historical encounters between Omanis and Westerns with focus on the British and Omani relationship, and offers an overview ofthe development of tourism in Oman. On the methodological front, the study is unusual as an investigation that combines inductive with deductive approaches, quantitative content analysis with qualitative semiotic analysis. Content analysis was used to examine the images of Oman reproduced in the three media. The quantitative findings were analysed qualitatively by using semiotic analysis to explore and interpret the meanings behind the quantitative results.