Author: Kong, Tsz Hei
Title: Emotional experiences in red tourism : an affective practice approach
Advisors: Xiao, Honggen (SHTM)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2024
Subject: Heritage tourism -- China
Tourism -- Social aspects -- China
Tourism -- Psychological aspects
Tourists -- Psychology
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: xii, 403 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Heritage and heritage tourism are highly political since they serve nation-building and support state-sanctioned interpretations of the past (Henderson, 2007). Red tourism is a specific form of communist heritage tourism promoted by the Chinese government as a nationwide patriotic education campaign since 2004. One of the social functions of red tourism is to sustain and reinforce an ideal form of collective memory, which is commonly known as red memory, and to enhance national solidarity (Xu, 2016). Although red memory is central to red tourism, scant literature explores how it is mediated and transmitted via tourism (Tang et al., 2021).
In view of existing knowledge of communist heritage tourism, most studies employed a post-communist lens, focusing on the tensions between the supply and demand of communist heritage tourism and the politics of heritage representations in Central and Eastern Europe (Ivanova, 2017; Light, 2000a). Our understanding of communist heritage tourism in existing communist states remains limited. Although red tourism has been studied widely in China, most studies only contribute to tourism planning, marketing, and management issues from a macro perspective. There remains a need to unpack tourists’ red tourism experiences.
The study of emotions in heritage tourism is becoming more popular, but many of these studies employed a psychological approach. In fact, emotions are not something we have but something we do (Scheer, 2012). Emotions are embodied human practices and are interlinked with the way we understand and experience the world (Smith & Campbell, 2017). Furthermore, heritage is a place where people’s emotions and memories are evoked. However, scholars seem less attentive to the interplay between collective memories and emotions in the tourism context (Smith & Campbell, 2016; Zhang et al., 2019). This study aims to theorize tourists’ emotional experiences in red tourism through a practice-based perspective. Wetherell’s (2012) idea of affective practice and Schatzki’s (2002, 2010b) framework of practice are being employed as sensitizing concepts to guide the whole study. In particular, this study aims to unfold the “doings and sayings,” “practical understandings,” “general understandings,” “teleoaffective structures,” and “rules” that constitute the emotional experiences of Chinese tourists.
To address these research questions, this study applied an ethnographic approach to research design. The majority of data were curated during a four-month period of fieldwork, spanning from the middle of September 2022 to early January 2023. The Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders (NMMH) located in Nanjing and the Jinggangshan Revolutionary Museum (JRM) in Jiangxi Province are the two red tourism sites chosen for fieldwork. Data was collected through a range of techniques, including semi-structured interviews, walking interviews, participant observations, and casual conversations with tourists.
Using reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2019) for data analysis, the complexities of red tourists’ emotional experiences were unfolded. The findings illustrate that tourists partake in different tasks and projects that require an investment of emotional labor. Through performing these different emotional works, tourists prepare themselves to be emotional, becoming emotional, and eventually being emotional. The findings also suggested that an emotional red tourism experience could be theorized as an affective practice of pain and suffering. It unpacks how red tourism offers a familiar yet new context for Chinese tourists to “yiku sitian (忆苦思甜)” - a unique cultural and emotional practice in China popularized since the Mao era.
This research project makes significant theoretical contributions to red tourism scholarship by taking a practice-based approach to theorizing red tourism experiences. Furthermore, it sheds light on the need to reconceptualize red tourism. Methodologically, this thesis employed a relatively novel data collection method and incorporated the researcher’s reflexivity and emotionality into the research process. These are the missing toolkits within the red tourism scholarship.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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