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Trips, Food, Language: The Tourist Gaze in Janice Y. K. Lee's The Expatriates



COVID-19 has adversely affected the global travel industry and altered the landscapes of popular tourist attractions. Social unrest can exacerbate the situation. Apart from the pandemic, Hong Kong witnessed a marked deterioration due to continuing pro-democracy demonstrations. With the widespread use of technology and media, which often change worldwide imagination about a place overnight, an acclaimed tourist attraction can lose its appeal in no time. This phenomenon raises questions about how tourists imagine and gaze at their travel destinations. To what extent do preconceived images influence tourists? Do tourists travel to experience new things or to reinforce the pre-existing stereotypes about their destinations? Will their contact with local people challenge the stereotypes? Or will it perpetuate them? The paper attempts to address these and other related questions through a close reading of Janice Y. K. Lee's Hong Kong based novel The Expatriates. Adopting tourism scholars John Urry and Jonas Larsen's theory of the "tourist gaze" and further adaptations and appropriations made by other scholars, the paper analyzes how the tourist gaze is employed by Lee's American expats in terms of trips, food, and language. In the novel, it is found, otherness in the traveling eye contributes to the construction of Americanness. The paper also examines the relationship between the local gaze and cross-cultural understanding. The local gaze, meaning local people's responses to the tourist gaze, can be both positive and negative. Confronted with the local gaze, Lee's three women protagonists become more aware of their limitations as tourists and achieve varying degrees of familiarity with the local culture, though each of them progresses at her own pace. The tourist gaze entails a tourist's expectation to witness the "authenticity" of her travel destination. However, we can see there exists no such authenticity at all. When the tourist gaze and the local gaze are interwoven, more images about a place are created.

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Parallel keywords

觀光凝視 在地凝視 李倫京 《旅外者》


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