Research project: Tourism and the Internet in the Shetland Islands »
The working title of my PhD research is 'Contested Narratives: Tourism and the Internet in the Shetland Islands'.
The research analyses how Shetland is represented to tourists by different actors. These will be studied both online and in Shetland.
The different materials analysed include those aimed directly to tourists, such as the official tourism marketing, as well as websites by small tourist businesses. In the research I am also interested on the ways those people who are not directly involved in tourism present Shetland. These include their interactions with tourists in Shetland as well as online, for example in discussion forums or blogs.
The Drunken Viking?
Part of my research is to analyse what type of pictures are used to market Shetland to tourists, what kind of stories these tell.
Typical photos in Shetland tourism marketing sites include pictures of landscape and nature - and for a good reason as these are both amazing and a big attraction for tourists.
In creating this website I looked through the photos I have taken in Shetland. I realised that they are mainly traditional scenery shots of the fantastic Shetland hills and sea, or of puffins and sheep. For this page I wanted to find something else, so I chose a photo of a graffiti with a Viking drinking beer in his (tiny) galley.
Not a typical picture familiar of Shetland tourism? Actually, the picture is taken in Lisbon, Portugal, where skillfully greated graffiti is widely presented on the streets. I didn't see any Vikings there though, drunken or sober.
My research consists of two main forms of data gathering.
First one is ethnographic research in Shetland, including participant observation and interviews. This will be largely conducted during summer 2008 - if you see me in Shetland feel free to come and greet me.
Second form of data gathering is online research, analysing Shetland tourism related websites and taking part in the discussions on selected Shetland discussion forums.
If you are interested to hear more about my research, I would be very happy for you to contact me.
Also, if you think you might be able to help me by telling of your experiences, you can find more information here.