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Destination Berlin: Orderings of City-Identity in Contemporary Tourist Guidebooks

  • A radical process of standardization of tourist destinations around the globe, particularly in urban contexts, has been described by numerous scholars during the last decades. Indeed, the reinvention of many cities as tourist destinations has made evident ‘an odd paradox: whereas the appeal of tourism is the opportunity to see something different, cities that are remade to attract tourists seem more and more alike’. In such a context, both scholars and practitioners point to abstract elements such as images, identities, flairs, and experiences, as the main elements defining destinations’ profiles. The American historian Catherine Cocks argued that the attribution of a ‘personality’ to the city was a key aspect in the transformation of American cities into tourist destinations. Urban personalities made the city easily available, readable and intelligible, transformed it into a salable commodity, and offered a compelling reason to visit it and to come back. Similarly, contemporary European cities can be seen as bearers of specific local urban identities that remain relatively fixed even when information, stereotypes and attributes may prove to be inaccurate or simply false. Wolfgang Kaschuba has in this sense described the production of urban identities as a cultural technique that is predominantly performed in certain societal spaces such as literature, tourism, mass media, pop culture, and history marketing. This article focuses on one of such spaces, tourism, and explores how tourist communication transforms Berlin into a distinct and unique destination. It asks how the city is enacted by tourism as a singular and bounded entity, to which multiple orderings of identity are attributed.

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Author:Ignacio Farías
Parent Title (English):Zeithistorische Forschungen – Studies in Contemporary History
Publisher:ZZF – Centre for Contemporary History: Zeithistorische Forschungen
Place of publication:Potsdam
Document Type:Journal Article
Date of Publication (online):2008/08/04
Date of first Publication:2008/08/04
Release Date:2020/09/16
First Page:422
Last Page:433
ZZF Chronological-Classification:2000er
20. Jahrhundert
21. Jahrhundert
ZZF Regional-Classification:Europa
Europa / Westeuropa
Europa / Westeuropa / Deutschland
ZZF Topic-Classification:Kultur
Public History
Kalter Krieg
Visual History
Cold War Studies
Web-Publications:Zeithistorische Forschungen
Studies in Contemporary History: Articles:3 / 2007 Offenes Heft
Licence (German):License LogoZZF - Clio Lizenz