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Tourism, modernity and the consumption of home in China



Tourists have long been neglected in the literature on home and mobility, although they constitute a massive mobile population within and across national borders. Addressing this gap, this paper advances geography's critical engagement with home in relation to mobility and modernity, and questions the binary distinction between home and unhomeliness in tourist mobility. It focuses on the alienation of Chinese modernity and how one group of domestic tourists negotiates this alienation through their imagination and consumption of home in a popular tourist site (i.e. Lijiang, a World Heritage site in Yunnan province) within the context of China's transformation, which started in 1978. This paper has two objectives. First, it examines why home is woven into the touristic imagination of Lijiang; and second, it links tourists' personal experiences with China's broad sociospatial transformation in order to explore individuals' resistance against and compliance with modernity. I argue that the imagination and consumption of home generates intensely contradictory configurations of struggle that simultaneously push tourists towards an ideal of home for inner freedom and premodern paradise, yet pull them back into the whirling vortex of ‘modern’ life and commercial forces. The paper sheds light on micro-geographies of people's lives in the context of China's rapid transformation.