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Title: Once upon a place : the construction of specialness by visitors to Iona
Author: Bhattacharjee, Krittika
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 788X
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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This is an ethnographic study of visitors to the island of Iona on the west coast of Scotland, popularly reputed to be a 'special' place. Using qualitative data obtained through interviews and participant observation, it explores the situated category of the 'special' as visitors apply it to Iona: analysing its form, its key elements, the process of its construction, and its application across a range of interactions and settings on the island. The thesis argues that the ascription of 'specialness' to Iona is a visitor narrative of belonging, a form of visitor 'work', and a way for Iona's transient subjects to participate in the ongoing, everyday life on the island. The thesis marks its origins in the idea of tourists as producers (chapter 1), the academic field of religion and tourism (chapter 2) and the field site of Iona (chapter 3). It then 'turns', arguing that the theoretical frameworks used in religion and tourism cannot be readily applied to the case of visitors on Iona, and advocating a shift to the vocabulary of the 'special', borrowed from visitors and theorised in light of the work by Ann Taves (chapter 4). In its second half, it provides a systematic study of specialness on Iona through an analysis of various 'moving parts': its form (the story; chapter 5), its contents (safety; connectedness and a sense of being 'out-of-time'; chapter 6), its construction (the processes of gazing and possessing; chapter 7), its functions (enabling visitors to make 'homes' and mark their 'place' on the island; chapter 8), and its implications for wider studies of religion and tourism (chapter 9). In offering a malleable conceptualisation of specialness with broad explanatory value, in considering visitors to be agents and producers of their own experience, and in providing an in-depth ethnography of narratives about a significant and contemporary visitor destination, this thesis aims to expand the scope of the 'Religion and Tourism' nexus in which it began.
Supervisor: Sutcliffe, Steven ; Longkumer, Arkotong Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: tourism ; travel ; Iona ; Scotland ; religion ; ethnography ; island ; place and space