{THESIS} Changing Landscapes: Tourism & New Media in Morocco

Writing a thesis is a bit like a puzzle, except it is your job to hunt down the pieces, which you don’t know what they are supposed to look like and may fit in multiple places, and–like with design–when you move one piece, it affects what is around it. For me writing a thesis was all about the process, and an extremely rewarding one at that. Submitting my thesis had me glowing and felt amazing. And then I finally defended on Friday, and while it went really well, it was anti-climatic, as I realized that something that has been such a part of me for so long is done. And while I figure out what to do with my thesis, beyond binding it for the shelves of the library, I thought I’d include the abstract below so you can see what I’ve been up to. And a HUGE thank you for all your support and encouragement along the way!!! (P.S. Brand new Boarding Pass tomorrow!)

CHANGING LANDSCAPES: Tourism and New Media in Morocco

ABSTRACT:
Traditionally, tourism advertising has presented striking imagery suggesting the monumental site, spectacular scenery or beach relaxation – an escape from the rigors of daily life. In recent travel advertising, place less about a location’s characteristics than about people. The human component of travel – experience, storytelling, memory – has entered tourism discourse. This thesis argues that interactive and participatory forms of travel are emerging thanks to new media, which also opens up opportunities for the entrepreneurial spirit. The thesis uses concepts of network sociality and networked publics help explain the blurring of boundaries between the real and digital, increased levels of individualization through technology, and the formation of online communities. The nature of new travel communications practices are explored via three case studies related to Morocco, representing (1) an official national sponsored campaign [the print campaign for visitmorocco.com], (2) an expatriate blog enabled by digital media [mymarrakesh.com], and (3) a site developed by digital nomads benefiting from constant mobility allowed by technology [grantourismotravels.com]. Morocco emerges as an example of a new paradigm in which there is a movement away from a one-way flow of communication to a multi-directional exchange of knowledge and ideas. A new focus in the construction of place emerges in the digitally based travel realm. Important themes include the quest for experience, the creation of the desirable place, the development of on-line dialogue, and the emergence of the entrepreneurial persona. However, not only is there change in the ways in which information flows, but also in the ways that travel and ‘place’ are represented, and the ways in which people travel. Tourism must be considered in a multi-disciplinary mode. The findings of the research have implications for the overarching phenomenon of ‘convergence culture’ as well as for emerging niches such as place branding.

Keywords: tourism * new media * Morocco * network sociality * blogs* convergence culture * digital communications

9 comments

  • A thesis can be a terribly difficult thing to name (not much unlike a child, I imagine) and yours is so wonderfully kinetic! Excellent work, Anne. Excited for you and thankful that you shared so much of this experience with all of us!

  • Hi Anne!

    My name is Catherine and I am an Anthropology and Geography undergrad in Virginia. I have loved reading your blog for the past year or so and I love the interesting way you combine design with travel and culture. Sharing a bit of your thesis has inspired me to think of how I might combine the two disciplines into an Anthropology senior thesis. The Boarding Pass features are also interesting peeks into the lives of people who have used their love of travel and turned it into a career. Let’s hope I can do the same!

    Thanks again for all the great posts!

    -Catherine

  • Thank you ALL for your wonderful support and positive energy!

    Meena, the title was something that happened a few days before I turned it in. I think it’s perfect, my advisor preferred “changing travelscapes” but that misses the idea of the “media landscape”

    Catherine, I appreciate your sweet note! I double majored at UVA in Art History & Anthropology. For me it was an a natural fit, then I added design, and now communications to tie it into a pretty package (although it’s still not always that simple). Please keep me posted on your endeavors!

    Merci à tous!
    A

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