Accepted paper:

Reinventing the myth of earthly paradise in tourist advertisement


Cristina Douglas (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyses how the idea of earthly paradise is reinvented through tourism, contributing to the ideology of consumerism and the mythology of (post-)modernity through modern narratives (tourist advertisement).

Paper long abstract:

During the middle Ages, a map not capable of locating the earthly paradise was inconceivable. The idea of an earthly paradise, although recurrent in almost all mythologies of the world, changed the map of the world, in its Christian representation, both geographical and historical. The era of the great explorations, alongside the secularization of science and society, pushed the idea of an earthly paradise exclusively in the arenas of conservative religion or fiction (e.g. James Hilton's story of Shangri-La). The development of tourism in recent decades, as well as cultural movements of "rediscovering authentic cultures", brought back a new form of earthly paradise to be consumed by people tired of "capitalist way of living life". This form of commercializing the myth of paradise in popular culture, most of these "paradises" placed on tropical islands, has a major contribution to the ideological, cultural and economic map of the world, redefining geography as a possible social science and the notion of myth as a "mappable" cultural modern category. This paper analyses the stereotypes of representing the paradise in the tourist advertisement, from various perspectives: temporal, spatial and ideological, pointing out the differences between the Christian and the advertised representations. Conversely, the paper analyses the role of myth in the ideology of consumerist society and the notion of paradise as an important part of the mythology of (post-)modernity through the "modern narratives" (tourism advertising) of earthly paradise from the perspective of tourist experiences as ritualized behaviour and pilgrimage.

panel P006
Island ethnographies revisited: challenging utopias, re-evaluating heritage?