Login | Register

Locative Tourism Applications: Between Gaze and Performance in the Branded City


Locative Tourism Applications: Between Gaze and Performance in the Branded City

Lynch, Erin Elizabeth (2019) Locative Tourism Applications: Between Gaze and Performance in the Branded City. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

[thumbnail of Lynch_PhD_S2020.pdf]
Text (application/pdf)
Lynch_PhD_S2020.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 10 June 2024.
Available under License Spectrum Terms of Access.


As cities look for new ways to enliven their streets as cultural destinations, many have begun offering augmented reality tourism applications for mobile users. These apps layer audio, text, and visuals over the built environment in a bid to help tourists make sense of the city, and are a type of “locative media” - a genre of site-specific platforms that use location-aware mobile technologies to enable interplay between digital content and “real” geographies.

The maps of meaning constructed by these apps forward particular (on-brand) understandings of what is culturally valuable in the city – what sites are worth seeing, whose stories are worth listening to, how best to taste, touch, and even smell the city. However, as these apps at once animate and are animated by the streetscape they attempt to frame, gaps and seams between the urban environment and the digital layer come into focus. Along the way, users of these apps encounter other rhythms, meanings, and ways of being in the city that can trouble unifying narratives and unsettle the authority of the map. Locative media’s cartographies are not only overlaid but “entangled” with locations and their existing representations, weaving a narrative of the city that is set on a shifting stage.

This thesis draws from sensory ethnography and on-site media analysis with diverse apps in 10 cities to interrogate how these applications layer maps of meaning over the urban environment, and consider what their use – at the embodied intersection of physical and digital space – can tell us about the production of cityscapes for touristic consumption. Two comparative case studies – in Christchurch and Montreal – further examine how locative apps can mediate the urban ruin and turn the city into a screen, respectively. Situated at the intersection of urban sociology, the anthropology of the senses, cultural geography and new media studies, this study argues that exploring the performance of the locative tour offers valuable perspective on the patterns, traces, and entanglements of urban meaning making in the digital age.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Lynch, Erin Elizabeth
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Social and Cultural Analysis
Date:November 2019
Thesis Supervisor(s):Howes, David
Keywords:locative media, tourism, sensory ethnography, tourist gaze, performance, urban branding, locative tourism applications
ID Code:986193
Deposited On:30 Jun 2021 15:04
Last Modified:15 Mar 2022 15:02
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
- Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
Back to top Back to top