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Title: The representation of India in and through tourism : an inspection of soft power articulation
Author: Nair, Bipithalal Balakrishnan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 8788
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2018
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Soft power - the capability to influence others to attain desirable outcomes through the exercise of culture, values and policies - has a crucial role in contemporary international politics and has demonstrated reasonable coaction with tourism practices. The countries with strong global influence show excellent soft power potential and also act as popular tourist destinations as well. Over past decades, tourism has been widely acknowledged as a critical geopolitical player actively engaged in the construction and reconstruction of the national image, primarily through the immensely powerful representational systems. Recent international power shifts are seemingly centralising global economic gravity from the West to the East. This study is focused on India as an emerging economy and popular tourist destination with bids to acquire a favourable international image, but which is also; recognised as possessing considerable soft power resources. Moreover, built on the perceptions of Western-centric tourism discourses about the East, it is useful to consider how India is being depicted through the enormously influential tourism portrayals in both external (to know how others shape India) and internal (as a self-reflection to the rest of the world) industrially scripted tourism advertisements, in order to understand the synergy between soft power and tourism. This study follows a transdisciplinary approach to understand the concepts of soft power within and through tourism, using both academic and non-academic sources and insights from a diverse mix of disciplines such as political science, international affairs, cultural studies and tourism studies. It adopts an emergent study design and is thereby not driven by prior (up-front) treatments. Further, this interpretive investigation relies upon qualitative methods supported by both triangulation and Kincholean bricoleurship. The interpretive findings of this inquiry point towards a found collaboration between tourism and soft power, especially regarding the projection of attractions. This investigation progresses by uncovering the perennial Eurocentric domination over a presumed 'inferior' 'Indian-ness' within British travel discourses, yet it appreciates the extensive, comprehensive coverage given to Indian culture/attractions which thereby acts powerfully in soft power fashion. In these ways, the powerful continuance of typical East-West misunderstandings leads to the standardisation of India's image and influence. In particular, the 'Incredible India' campaign - an important 'self-representation' articulation of and about India, further communicates many of the longstanding Westernized images of the country by routinely restating something of a nostalgia of 'self-orientalism', meanwhile sanitising traces of colonisation through the ongoing filtration of history, (i.e., as a conceivable attempt to tell 'a better story' to the world). At many junctures in the study, these representational efforts are judged to have backfired and thus influenced the communication of soft power via the discourses of industrially-scripted tourism. Furthermore, it appears that Indian authorities are nowadays becoming highly focused on 'defensive' soft power communication through the Incredible India campaign, as they commonly project exaggerated narratives about Indian being and inheritance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: soft power ; India ; tourism representation ; cultural diplomacy ; incredible India ; postcolonialism ; bricoleurship ; emergent research ; tourism ; N840 International Tourism