The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and of ourselves.

Friday, 27 June 2008


This thesis project focuses on the questions of identity and tourism.
In my research question: how to reproduce identity through public space?, I would like to emphasize the words reproduce and through. Because I believe that identity is not something fixed, but rather placing itself among the variety of behavioural patterns; and it must be played out (lived).

Everywhere throughout the world local people in response to the opportunities afforded by the global tourism industry (mostly moneywise) are putting their culture on display. Instead of talking, living it out and starting the dialogue with tourist, the host population is actually trying to fulfil the expectations of a traveler. Tourist is kind of a pilgrim, who is seeking authenticity in other times and other places away from home. He shows particular fascination in the real lives of others.

Traditionally people have traveled away from their residence and work in order to participate in tourism. The tourism however does not start nor end with the physical departure and return. Anticipation and daydreaming, remembering and reminiscing are equally part of tourism experience. But if one does not need to leave the place of residence to become a tourist, then tourism and therefore also search for identity or comparison with others, cannot be described as a quality of place and time only. It is rather quality in the minds of people. Or the relationship between person and a place/ environment that makes the identity. The ways in which people experience that environment (and themselves), is not merely instrumental, but often exploratory, unsystematic, wasteful of energy and fun. They do not want to use only their vision; they need to hear, to touch, to taste and gather these five perceptions in a world.

My context is based on a village in eastern border of Estonia, known as a settlement of russian old believers. This one of the places where villagers gain mostly from tourism, but that only for up to 4 months a year. This village is extraordinary from its layout compared to historical estonian villages. It is 7km long one streetvillage. Houses are built very close to each other, there is no pavement to differentiate car area from pedestrians, and people tend interact just on the doorsteps.The citizens of the village are mostly old people; therefore it is believed that in less than 20years there will no longer be authentic village as such for tourism industry.

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