Feeling superior? National identity and humour in British Castles

Carol Zhang, Philip Pearce

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    This study explores how humour in tourism can communicate facets of national identity. In particular, the paper focuses on the presentation by guides of two English and two Scottish castles. Drawing on multiple sources, including an analysis of promotional materials, the text of the guide’s narratives, on-site observation, and TripAdvisor comments from tourists, it was revealed that the guides repeatedly jokes to create clear boundaries between being English and Scottish. The guides’ command of nuances in language was a pivotal skill underpinning the humour. Through employing interactive jokes, the guides engaged the tourists’ attention and drew attention to the contrasts between English and Scottish characteristics. The research not only captures how the role of tourism-linked humour can function to interpret the distinctiveness of a destination, but also suggests further possible implications of humour in heritage tourism contexts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)30-41
    JournalTourism Recreation Research
    Issue number1
    Early online date4 Jul 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


    • humour
    • interaction
    • superiority
    • heritage tourism
    • national identity


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