Hunting the Northern Lights

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: 423
Oral Presentation
Bente HEIMTUN , Department of Tourism and Northern Studies, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, Alta, Norway
This work in process explores gendered landscapes imbuing the increased use of ‘hunt’ , ‘hunters’ and ‘hunting’ in the language of northern lights tourism in Northern Norway, aimed at English speaking markets. The development of this tourism product, as winter tourism as such, started in earnest with Finnmark Reiseliv’s (county DMO) winter project in 2002. The evolvement of the last decade’s hunting metaphors has become very important in the marketing of northern lights tourism in the region and is has been adapted by tourists in their blogs (trip advisor). Hunting the northern lights tours, at least in their commercialised forms are highly planned by tour operators and aimed at soft adventure tourists (Beedie and Hudson, 2003). These hunters thus do not need any skills, experiences and knowledge to take part in the hunt. Therefore the link to hunting as a symbol of masculinity (Bye, 2003) and masculine social values such as hierarchy, physical toughness, rationality, emotional distance and risk taking (Haenfler, 2004) is lacking. This paper thus discusses how commoditisation of hunting metaphors in relationship to northern lights tours contributes to demasculinisation of hunting and hard adventure tourism discourses. It also explores partly overlapping discourses between big game hunt and the hunt for the northern lights. Whereas the former even today is mainly a masculine pursuit which requires preparation and good physical strengths the latter is available to masses of tourists regardless of gender, skills and knowledge (Houston, 2008). References

Beedie, P. and Hudson, S. (2003) Emergence of mountain-based adventure tourism. Annals of Tourism Research 30(3): 625-643.

Bye, L. M. (2003) Masculinity and rurality at play in stories about hunting. Norwegian Journal of Geography 57(3): 145-153.

Haenfler, R. (2004) Manhood in Contradiction: The two Faces of Straight Edge. Men and Masculinities 7:77-99.