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The Role of the Night & the Northern Lights in the Production of a New Touristic Imaginary of the North

Abstract : Our work is based on empirical observation: the development of a tourist offer proposing to observe the northern lights in some Nordic areas. We place these developments in a broader dynamic of changes in our relationship to the night. These changes find a translation in a tourism that takes the night and its environmental resources as objects. This communication focuses on a particular object of these tourist dynamics: the northern lights. We formulate the following hypothesis: the erosion by the urban lighting of the “natural” night and of the accessibility to its “environmental resources” (as the starry sky, for example) provides an opportunity for some areas of low density to convey an image of strong naturality. In the case before us, large areas of the North put forward three advantages: to striking daytime landscape naturalness, they add a good quality of the dark night and a very special nocturnal environmental resource that can be frequently observed in their latitudes, the northern lights. This set seems to be new forms of “lost identity”, new “spaces of nostalgia” for many people living in large metropolitan cities. By questioning the status of the northern lights as landscape object, we analyze the manufacture of a new touristic imaginary linked to the Nordic countries. The northern lights appear to be objects worthy of consideration as markers of a strong degree of naturalness, in which the themes of the return and the conquest are still relevant and play a key role in the production of images, landscapes or speech. Through qualitative and quantitative approaches, our empirical material is twofold: iconographic production of landscapes in geographical magazines, and tourism offers promoting the Nordic areas.
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Contributor : Samuel Challéat <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 2:23:36 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 1:46:07 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-01087637, version 1


Samuel Challéat, Pierre-Olivier Dupuy, Rémi Bénos, Dany Lapostolle, Frédérique Girard, et al.. The Role of the Night & the Northern Lights in the Production of a New Touristic Imaginary of the North. The Dynamics of Darkness in the North, Feb 2015, Reykjavik, Iceland. ⟨hal-01087637⟩



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