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(Re)Branding the Big Easy: Authenticity and Tourism Rebuilding in Post-Katrina New Orleans
Unformatted Document Text:  history to frame contemporary tourism rebuilding as a choice between urban disinvestment and economic stagnation and urban revitalization and prosperity. Still another tactic is to emphasize “family-friendly” tourism and build tourism attractions that attempt to attract “families.” What unites all these place marketing strategies is the effort to develop more specialized, more differentiated, and more diverse tourist sights and sites within a commodified and rationalization system that attempts to homogenize the tourist experience. Finally, this paper provides a challenge to condemnatory tourism-phobia accounts that denounce tourism as a monolithic process of homongenization and standardization. Scholars have long maintained that a major developmental trend of tourism is the replacement of real authenticity with a “staged” authenticity in which local cultures and traditions become manufactured or simulated for tourist consumption. Despite their diverse work, early conceptions of tourism by Daniel Boorstin (1964), Dean MacCannell (1992; 1976), and others drew attention to tourism as a process of cultural erosion and debasement that transforms indigenous and authentic places into saleable items (commodities) that are devoid of authenticity and collective life. 0 Yet in spite of trends toward commodification and homogenization, we should also recognize trends toward the diversification of places and the accentuation of place distinctiveness, trends highlighted by sociologists such as Lily Hoffman (2003), John Urry (2002), and Harvey Molotch and colleagues (2000). The empirical account in this paper offers support to the view that branding is a conflictual and contested process of homogenization- diversification. Parallel processes of standardization-distinctiveness, rationalization-uniqueness, and globalization-localization are not independently given sets of phenomena, a dualism, but represent a duality, neither can exist without the other (Giddens 1984, pp. 25, 26, 163). Branding is neither a final end-state nor a completed project. Instead of talking about “branded” cities and places, we should examine urban “branding” as a dialectical process that involves the intersection of global forces and localized actions and organizations. Future research needs to go 0In recent years, however, scholars have challenged the validity of this cultural erosion model of tourism and attacked it as factually incorrect and self serving (for overviews, see Barthel-Bouchier 2001; Cohen 1988; Shepherd 2002)

Authors: Gotham, Kevin. and Benoit, Adele.
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history to frame contemporary tourism rebuilding as a choice between urban disinvestment and
economic stagnation and urban revitalization and prosperity. Still another tactic is to emphasize
“family-friendly” tourism and build tourism attractions that attempt to attract “families.” What
unites all these place marketing strategies is the effort to develop more specialized, more
differentiated, and more diverse tourist sights and sites within a commodified and rationalization
system that attempts to homogenize the tourist experience.
Finally, this paper provides a challenge to condemnatory tourism-phobia accounts that
denounce tourism as a monolithic process of homongenization and standardization. Scholars
have long maintained that a major developmental trend of tourism is the replacement of real
authenticity with a “staged” authenticity in which local cultures and traditions become
manufactured or simulated for tourist consumption. Despite their diverse work, early
conceptions of tourism by Daniel Boorstin (1964), Dean MacCannell (1992; 1976), and others
drew attention to tourism as a process of cultural erosion and debasement that transforms
indigenous and authentic places into saleable items (commodities) that are devoid of authenticity
and collective life.
Yet in spite of trends toward commodification and homogenization, we
should also recognize trends toward the diversification of places and the accentuation of place
distinctiveness, trends highlighted by sociologists such as Lily Hoffman (2003), John Urry
(2002), and Harvey Molotch and colleagues (2000). The empirical account in this paper offers
support to the view that branding is a conflictual and contested process of homogenization-
diversification. Parallel processes of standardization-distinctiveness, rationalization-uniqueness,
and globalization-localization are not independently given sets of phenomena, a dualism, but
represent a duality, neither can exist without the other (Giddens 1984, pp. 25, 26, 163). Branding
is neither a final end-state nor a completed project. Instead of talking about “branded” cities and
places, we should examine urban “branding” as a dialectical process that involves the
intersection of global forces and localized actions and organizations. Future research needs to go
0In recent years, however, scholars have challenged the validity of this cultural erosion model of tourism and
attacked it as factually incorrect and self serving (for overviews, see Barthel-Bouchier 2001; Cohen 1988; Shepherd
2002)


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