Social-cultural Engagements with Landscape: Why do we Visit Locations?
journal contributionposted on 22.01.2013, 11:58 by E. Anna Claydon
Every day, most of us encounter an environment which holds significant to us beyond our immediate lives: passing a building we used to work in, seeing an image of somewhere we have been on holiday, walking through a city centre we have known all our lives and has changed as we have; but why do we humans feel the need to visit places which are more abstract for us and which become a vicarious experience of something others have lived or framed for us. Much has been discussed and critiqued in terms of the heritage industry we see across the world but in this paper I want to address something of the more specific function of visiting locations which we recognise from imaginary landscapes – not why visit the Tower of London (because we know it’s history) but why visit a castle with no name seen distant on a hill? Not why visit the Universal Studios parks in the US or Japan (because it represents and imitation of Hollywood) but why visit some ruins in Ireland because they seem familiar? As such, this paper will drawing upon both the critical context of how we understand landscape as humans within that space but also original data gathered through questionnaires from people around the world in a small study of what we can call ‘abstract tourism’ and how this is a manifestation of our social-cultural engagements with space, place and identification.