Reijnders, Stijn. Places of the Imagination: Media, Tourism, Culture. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011. xii + 159 pages. Cloth, $99.95.
This book is a remarkable testimony to the popular culturist slogan, "popular culture IS culture." Through careful on-ground empirical observation, it relates how a variety of popular culture vehicles from the United Kingdom and Europe have generated tourism and tourist culture fandom. The author quickly points out, however, that the bias against "low culture" persists, including in the tourism industry that demonstrably benefits from it. The thought of the cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, whose conception of the post-modern obfuscation of reality has had great traffic in intellectual circles, forms a starting point of the current author's analysis. So, too, does the concept and term lieux de memoire (places of memory), coined by the historian Pierre Nova, which is about how our obsession with the past has created places of memorialization, such as the beaches at Normandy. Reijnders argues that the phenomenon restores a sense of reality and makes current the experience of fiction. The theoretical concept that is the author's vehicle for this restoration and updating is his term lieux d'imagination (places in the imagination).
The author provides extensive ethnographic studies of three popular culture genres--television detectives, the almost super-human British agent James Bond, and Count Dracula. As representative of television detectives, Reijnders chose Inspector Morse of Oxford, England, Wallander of Ystad, Sweden, and Baantjer of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His observations lead him to an analysis of the post-modern and globalized world that popular culture fans inhabit in which "even the wildest fantasies spring from something recognizable" (15). So, the consumers of popular culture seek the recognizable in some reality, namely, the tourism opportunities created in response to the fantasies they read and watch. What is described in post-modern theoretical contexts as hyper-reality is regrounded and replaced by the tourist visiting real places where they can walk into settings they otherwise could only imagine if read, or view from outside if seen on television or in film.
Building on the classic work of Dean McCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (1999), Reijnders modifies McCannell's model of how tourism creates...