A discursive analysis of women’s femininities within the context of Tunisian tourism

PhD thesis

Jeffrey, H. 2017. A discursive analysis of women’s femininities within the context of Tunisian tourism. PhD thesis Middlesex University Business School
TypePhD thesis
TitleA discursive analysis of women’s femininities within the context of Tunisian tourism
AuthorsJeffrey, H.

Tourism has been hailed as a vehicle for gender equality and women’s empowerment and yet the relationship between these is far from simple. As tourism is created in already gendered societies, the ability of the industry to empower is shaped by existing gender norms and discourses. Therefore utilising a postcolonial feminist frame, the primary focus of this thesis is to critically explore both the discursive role of tourism and its influence in (re)constructing feminine identities in Tunisia.
Informed by the works of Michel Foucault, and postcolonial feminism a critical discourse analysis is performed to identify discourses on femininity within the (re)presentations of Tunisian women in the Tunisian National Tourism Office’s brochures and website. Critical discourse analysis often risks disempowering the communities it seeks to analyse and as such fifteen semi-structured, in-depth interviews were carried out with Tunisian women involved in the Tunisian tourism industry. The interviews were shaped by a terrorist attack targeting tourists that had happened just two weeks before.
Interestingly both the promotional materials and the interviews display two particular discourses on femininity, the modern and uncovered daughter of Bourguiba, and the southern covered Other. Of these discourses, it is the daughter of Bourguiba who is privileged and the southern veiled Other who is excluded. These discourses have been fomented since independence from France in 1956 and the rule of President Habib Bourguiba, but they still have a very material impact on the lives of Tunisian women today as evidenced in the interviews.
This thesis contributes to both tourism and postcolonial studies in its problematisation of the connotation of Othering as essentially negative. When discourses of the Other shaping (re)presentations refrain from the construction of a monolithic categorisation, they can be more inclusive than discourses of similarity, which exclude all Others. This is linked to host self (re)presentation being intimately entwined within a system of both local and global politics, when cross-cultural (re)presentations are removed from at least some of these. The use of photo elicitation is developed to gain an understanding of how those (re)presented view those (re)presentations, but also to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers.

Department nameBusiness School
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print07 Nov 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Nov 2017
Accepted01 Nov 2017
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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