Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Ghosts, extraterrestrials and re-enchantment: Possibilities and challenges in regional tourism
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication (from 2013). (GeoMedia)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1800-6083
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Although the paranormal and the occult are today integral parts of mainstream popular culture (Hill 2011; McIlwain 2005; Partridge 2004), there are indications of the old division between 'high' and 'low' culture still being influential in official tourism policies, and possibly also regarding tourists themselves. In addition to popular TV shows such as Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters, the tourism industry offers countless examples of ghost tours and visits, suggesting that belief in ghosts is today socially accepted. However, visiting a (presumed) UFO landing area or taking part in a dowsing excursion is probably considered at least potentially socially stigmatizing, which might be one reason why such experiences are rarely found in mainstream tourism. Thus, it can be argued that the tourism industry officially sanctions certain aspects of the paranormal through their deliberate use of them.

 

As part of the Place-Based Digital Experiences research project at Karlstad University, this paper explores possibilities and issues regarding the use of the paranormal in tourism. Based on a case study of Visit Värmland, a regional economic association using “ghost tourism” as part of their marketing, the study uses qualitative interviews to explore what kind of paranormal phenomena are considered to provide options in marketing and in place-branding, what are not, and on what grounds (cf Francesconi 2014; Oswald 2011). Is there a hierarchy regarding the supernatural in tourism? If so, in what ways does it relate to contemporary society and culture, including the dominant view on supernatural phenomena?

 

Popular media promote a kind of off-the-grid tourism to particular locations through for example TV series about haunted houses, ancient cult places, UFO sightings etc. The possibility of maybe oneself actually having an experience of a ghost – or, for that matter, seeing weird lights hovering in the sky – is part of the longing for authenticity considered to be characteristic for our times. Still, there is possibly a tension between on the one hand romantic folklore expressions such as enchanted forests, dancing fairies and hauntings, and on the other hand 'suspect' areas of interest such as earth energies and ufology. Although the latter are phenomena either present in traditional folk belief or considered to be a modern transformation of it, one might suspect that 'meeting' an alien from outer space is a considerably less attractive experience than evoking elves on a light Nordic summer's night (cf Kripal 2010; Kripal & Strieber 2016). Importantly, the proposed re-enchantment of the modern world is not dependent on actual belief in the supernatural – it is rather a kind of postmodern playfulness that during the right circumstances invites experiences, actual or imagined, of phenomena that are otherwise banished from a materialist worldview (Landy & Saler 2009). However, it is probable that although paranormal phenomena are popular parts of contemporary media culture and attract large audiences, there are some that are considered more respectable than others, and that the tourism industry is an important instance in  providing them with that respectability.

 

References

 

Francesconi, S. (2014) Reading Tourism Texts: A Multimodal Analysis. Bristol: Channel View Publications

 

Hill, A. (2011) Paranormal Media: Audiences, Spirits and Magic in Popular Culture. London and New York: Routledge

 

Kripal, J. (2010) Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press

 

Kripal, J. & Strieber, W. (2016) The Supernatural: A New Vision of the Unexplained. New York: Jeremy P: Tarcher/Penguin

 

McIlwain, C. (2005) When Death Goes Pop: Media and the American Culture of Death. New York: Peter Lang

 

Oswald, L. (2011) Marketing Semiotics: Signs, Strategies, and Brand Value. Oxford: Oxford University Press

 

Partridge, C. (2004) The Re-Enchantment of the West: Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture, and Occulture. Volume I. London and New York: T&T Clark International

 

Landy J., & Saler, M., eds. (2009) The Re-Enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press

 

Visit Värmland, “Hemsökta platser i Värmland” (“Haunted places in Värmland”) https://www.visitvarmland.se/sv/hemsokta-platser-i-varmland Accessed 2018-03-29

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-70646OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-70646DiVA, id: diva2:1274793
Conference
Supernatural in Contemporary Society Conference, 23-24 August 2018, Aberdeen, Scotland
Projects
Platsbaserade digitala upplevelser (PDU)
Funder
Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional GrowthEuropean Regional Development Fund (ERDF)Available from: 2019-01-03 Created: 2019-01-03 Last updated: 2019-04-25Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text in DiVA

Authority records BETA

Kingsepp, Eva

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Kingsepp, Eva
By organisation
Department of Geography, Media and Communication (from 2013)
Media and Communications

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

urn-nbn

Altmetric score

urn-nbn
Total: 22 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf