Exploring Place: Domestic Tourism and the Politics of Geographic Knowledge in Post-Reform China


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships


Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


This ethnographic study of domestic tourism in Sichuan Province is set between the urban landscape of Chengdu, the provincial capital, and the natural landscape of the Yading Nature Reserve in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Region. It covers a twenty-year period of contemporary Chinese history – from 1992 to 2012 – and focuses on the active role that domestic tourists have come to play in the politics of geographic knowledge in China. For the first time in history, significant numbers of mainland Chinese have eschewed traditionally important scenic spots to explore places and regions outside the state-imagined tourism geography. This change marks an important shift in the politics of knowledge that sustains China’s national geo-body.