WHP Logo

WHP HOME PAGE

SUBSCRIPTIONS

ONLINE ACCESS

PERMISSIONS AND COPYRIGHT

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT

JOURNAL PROJECT

EDITORIAL BOARD

INSTRUCTIONS FOR AUTHORS

CONTENTS LISTS

ONLINE SUBMISSION SYSTEM

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT

 

Nationalized Nature on Picture Postcards:
Subtexts of Tourism from an Environmental Perspective.


Verena Winiwarter

Global Environment 1 (2008): 192–215

Tourism is an important part of many national economies in Europe and beyond. Tourism imagery is a reflection of national environmental values and national claims upon nature. Postcards are a good example for the use of images in environmental history, and an important medium of tourist discourse. They are designed to sell tourist dreams about landscapes. In some ways, they are very uniform. They depict blue skies, green meadows, mountains, snow, whatever is to be sold as typical to the paying user. This uniformity is paradoxical, as what tourist destinations are striving to sell is their uniqueness. Upon close study, differences are revealed within the uniformity. Cards are full of national symbols and make claims about national natures. National styles of depicting nature have developed alongside increasingly targeted destination marketing. At a recent environmental history conference, a panel asked if nations had a place in environmental history. This paper argues, as did Ted Steinberg in his book on the history of the lawn in the U.S.A., that, for some topics, national boundaries do matter in environmental history. National styles are part of the socio-cultural legacies of different countries. Humans play a special role in picture postcards, being either sold as decorative “natives” to enhance the card’s picturesque appeal, or depicted as model tourists showing the proper use of the landscape portrayed, be it eating shrimp, mountaineering, or boating and fishing. The present paper uses postcards from several European countries to discuss national natures in comparison. The development of statements about national natures over time is interesting, as picture postcards do echo environmental values in different countries. The paper employs picture postcards to show how the environment was and is constructed for tourist use and for purposes of national interest. Postcards transmit environmental values. Since these are also national values, looking at cards reveals what may be a hidden agenda of difference within a politically but not culturally unified Europe.

Full text
Contents of this issue