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“Everybody needs good neighbours”: transcultural capital, fan pilgrimage and the official Neighbours tour

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Taking into account the multitude of technologies, networks, texts, practices and venerated sites of pilgrimage with which fans build a sense of self, community and cultural capital this chapter seeks to interrogate the importance of place in the transcultural fan community of long-running Australian soap opera, Neighbours (1985 to present). Using the “official” Neighbours guided tour, fans can visit the filming locations based in Melbourne’s suburbs – such as the “real” Ramsey Street and studio back lot. The tour predominantly caters for both UK and Australian fan communities – the former making up the largest international contingent of fans, in fact dwarfing the number that makes up the latter.
Most sites of pilgrimage are “multiply coded” (Brooker 2007, 430), and thus fandom connected to place differs for each fan. Fan pilgrimage is about pretending, performance and making the new from “the familiar and quotidian” and so fans that travel to Melbourne approach filming locations “with their own agenda” and “are able to transform ‘flatscape’ into a place of wonder. They bring their own urban imaginary, their own maps of fiction and their own angles on the everyday” (443).

When traveling on board the tour bus Melbourne’s real suburb of Vermont South becomes the fictional suburb of Erinsborough as seen on television. Notions of space and place are changed so that a foreign city becomes a familiar site for Neighbours fans, traveling to enhance their appreciation of the show and increase their transcultural capital. Melbourne, and by extension Australia, becomes an international destination that confers fan identity. Visiting Ramsey Street, the studio, and listening to the stories which fans share while on the tour make the bus and the city of Melbourne secure places in which fans can reveal their subcultural identities, or, as Yi-Fu Tuan argues, “When space feels thoroughly familiar to us, it has become place” (1977, 73).

This chapter argues that the study of Australian television fan geographies highlights the importance of fan histories and the affective connections offered when passing through venerated fan spaces. Furthermore, combining methodological approaches from media studies, fan studies and phenomenological geography allows us to form a more intricate picture of how fans relate to their object of fandom and construct a transcultural framework for understanding the relationship between international communities and individuals, global texts and geographies, mediated memories and emotions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAussie Fans
Subtitle of host publicationUniquely Placed in Global Popular Culture
EditorsCelia Lam, Jackie Raphael
Place of PublicationIowa City
PublisherUniversity of Iowa Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781609386580
ISBN (Print)9781609386573
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2019

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