Hotelscapes: Questions of Ownership, Banal Tourism, and Semiotics of Heritage

Author: Cassandra Gerber (University of Cologne, Institute for African Studies and Egyptology, Germany)
Speaker: Cassandra Gerber
Topic: Linguistic Landscapes
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


In this paper I will discuss ‘Hotelscapes’ – hotel names and their interior as well as their decoration as semiotic landscape(s). On the example of two different hotels in Stone Town, an old part of Zanzibar City and UNESCO Heritage Site. Stone Town is a popular hotspot for tourism, a place that is often visited to buy souvenirs and to look at historical sites and museums. Hotel names, decoration such as signage and figurines, images, clothing, as well as architecture and location of the hotels are included in this description of a multimodal semiotic landscape. The paper addresses the following questions: What can the semiotic landscape of a hotel express and how is the hotel as place connected to Stone Town and Zanzibar as places of tourism? Which contested discourses and imageries do they reveal? Walk-throughs, photographs, and participant observation of hotels and their surroundings are used to explore these questions. Textual data such as travel guides and the online-offline nexus (Blommaert & Maly 2019), i.e., the presentation of the place on its own homepages and websites such as TripAdvisor, will also be included in the analysis. References: Blommaert, J., & Maly, I. (2019). Invisible Lines in the Online-Offline Linguistic Landscape, Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies 223. Jaworski, A., & Thurlow, C. (2010). Semiotic landscapes: Language, image, space. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. Jaworski, Adam., & Thurlow, C. (2011). Tourism discourse: Languages and banal globalization, Applied Linguistics Review 2. 285-312. Storch, A. & Mietzner, A. (2021). The Impact of Tourism in East Africa: A Ruinous System. Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit: Channel View Publications Stroud, C. & Mpendukana S. (2009). Towards a material ethnography of linguistic landscape: Multilingualism, mobility and space in a South African township, Journal of Sociolinguistics, 13 (3). 363 – 386 Waterton E. und Watson S. (2014). The Semiotics of Heritage Tourism. Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit: Channel View Publications.

Keywords: tourism, semiotic landscape, tourism discourse, hotelscapes, heritage discourse