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Hanna & Del Casino's Mapping Tourism


Mapping Tourism.

Hanna, Stephen P., and Vincent J. Del Casino Jr. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2003 219p., $18.95, softcover. ISBN: 0816639566.

Stephen P. Hanna and Vincent J. Del Casino Jr.'s Mapping Tourism is a highly recommendable collection of seven studies conducted in an emerging field that has come to be known as "new" or "critical" cartography. Critical cartographers urge a profound revision of traditional cartography as taught in academic Geography. Unfortunately, if one follows the editors' view, this field, like so many fellow disciplines rooted in the 19th century heydays of academic positivism, has proven rather hesitant to change and resistant to recent critical challenges. Hanna and Del Casino further criticize that tourism maps, in their function as cultural representations and semiotic agents, have been neglected even by critical cartography and tourism scholars. Their volume as a whole, therefore, is designed to examine "how these representations work to construct and reproduce the spaces and identities that inform our histories and heritage, our environmental perceptions, our urban and rural landscapes, our languages and political actions, and our racial, sexual, gendered, and ethnic identities." (xi)

Accordingly, the essays share a common theoretical framework to some extent, yet they re-address and re-map those basic theoretical assumptions pertinent for their methodological approach. This shows a high degree of self-reflexivity I sometimes miss in similar collections, which often tend to take these assumptions for granted or leave it to the editor(s) alone to make the theoretical framework clear.

As a consequence, the volume shows a high degree of theoretical coherence. At the same time the thematic originality and diversity of the seven articles-ranging from mappings of a Californian Ghost Town (Dydia DeLyser) to New Berlin construction sites (Karen E. Till) and the mapped future of Québec City (Rob Shields)-make evident the practical applicability of critical cartography as well as the powerful discourses co-produced and reproduced by the maps and mappings of a place. By analyzing certain maps in terms of what is placed at their center and what is marginalized (often literally and figuratively at the same time), the essays make clear that maps not only constitute cultural texts, but invoke multiple historical and spatial referents, as the editors argue in their essay on the politics of representation in Bangkok's sex tourism industry. Hanna and Del Casino create the concept of "map space" as an open and incomplete process in order to take into account the fact that tourism maps are parts of the places to which people travel instead of simple, more or less accurate, representations.

Another common ground shared by the essays presented in Mapping Tourism is their historical perspective, i.e. the historicized context in which the respective "maps-as-texts" are read. Their production context is especially crucial for any cartographical analysis, as it is always informed by historical constructions of identity categories such as race, gender, and class. Mary Curran's brilliant, thought-provoking essay on tensions between class and environmental discourses in a Montana mining town is a good case in point; from my view, she is also one of the few contributors who give appropriate attention to the concept of gendered space.

The interrelations of historicity and collective memory are addressed especially in Owen J. Dwyer's analysis of Alabama's Civil Rights Journey, a publication by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel, as well as in John R. Gold and Margaret Gold's article on the representations of the battlefield in Culloden, Scotland. These essays make clear that the representation of a locale via the tourist map is embedded in a very specific cultural context, and consequently subject to change. Thus, place itself can be seen as a (historical) process rather than a fixed geographical entity.

The collection is illustrated with black-and-white images of maps and icons, and/or photographs of the places they analyze, which are essential for the reader's understanding of the arguments presented. Collected at the end of the book, the volume's bibliography is vast and covers many recent publications of relevance across various disciplines (though I miss Johnathan Culler's influential essay on "The Semiotics of Tourism" [1 ]). A biographical section as well as an index is added at the end of the book.

All in all, readers from various disciplines will find Mapping Tourism a useful methodological guide for a fresh approach to maps and tourist brochures. The book presents critical and insightful analyses of these powerful representations of place, and shows that maps can be read as spaces informed by as well as informing political agendas.

Alexandra Ganser


[1 ] Culler, Johnathan. "The Semiotics of Tourism." Framing the Sign. Criticism and Its Institutions. Oxford: Blackwell, 1988. 153-167. Culler views of tourism as a practice of semiotic agency rather than dismissing the tourist as a passive consumer of commodified places. [^]