Book Synopsis (engl.)

Book synopsis by B. Hoenig and H. Wadle.

A map cannot only be drawn from geographical, political, or ethnic angles: If we try to map tourism places and regions, we obtain a specific representation of space, which pictures geographical features and specific tourism infrastructures, and which reflects dreams and longings. By producing a map of tourism places of longing we can view immediate interconnections between physical and imagined spaces and trace their dynamics in times of socio-cultural, political and economic change in the past and today.

The question of Sehnsuchtsorten (tourism places of longings) promises new perspectives particularly on Eastern Europe, with its ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural diversity, and its past of multiple political realities: The diversity of the region did not only lead to conflicts, which generated lieux de mémoire, but it also created places of tourists’ imaginations and longings, which could also become matters of negotiations between different interpretations of multiple groups of society.

The study of tourism as a global phenomenon through the lens of Social Sciences and Humanities is hence of particular relevance for a better understanding of Eastern Europe. While the goal of this workshop is not producing an inventory of places of longing (Sehnsuchtsorten), it is concerned with two key aspects of the issue: firstly the documentation of processes of evolution and fracturing of longings in the societies of Eastern Europe and secondly the development of the idea of the Sehnsuchtsort into a theoretical tool for the multidisciplinary analysis of a trans-national phenomenon.

Perspectives of the project “Eden for all?…”

I Cross-system and trans-national analysis of dynamics and developments of Sehnsuchtsorte (tourism places of longing)

The project assessed the notion of the Sehnsuchtsort in Eastern Europe from a historical and cultural perspective. Our first goal is a systematisation of tourism discourses and practices in Eastern Europe from 1945 until the present day. We would like to elaborate cross-system and trans-national processes, through which specific places in certain periods became tourism magnets for holiday makers. The following perspectives can be relevant to study:

Space, place, and mental maps

Which maps of Eastern Europe as touristic territory existed in different times and from different perspectives? This concerns space as material and as imagined construct: The question thus applies to tourism infrastructures like hotels or cable cars, but also to associations related to specific tourism destinations. What happens with places when they become or cease to be Sehnsuchtsorte? What imaginations make a Sehnsuchtsort? What effects have territorial losses and/or restrictions of travel for the map of Sehnsuchtsorte?

Actors and leisure cultures

Who ‘makes’ Sehnsuchtsorte? Tourism industry, state, the tourists themselves, authors, the media? What role do local populations play? Are there counter-movements or resistance against this development? What competitions are there around places of tourism longing? Are there class differences between the destinations of Sehnsucht? What are the ideals of leisure and fulfilled life on which the longing is based? How do visitors and inhabitants act the places? How does longing transform into bodily performances? What is communication like in such places of trans-national, trans-social and trans-cultural encounters?


Which role do literature, art, and film play for the creation of Sehnsuchtsorte? What are the dominating narratives and topoi? What are the impacts of tourism media (e.g. travel guides, post cards)? Are there other forms of media involved?

II Theoretical and methodological dimensions of tourists‘ Sehnsucht and tourism Sehnsuchtsorten

The second academic goal of the workshop is to deepen the theoretical and methodological understanding of the notion Sehnsuchtsort in different temporal, spatial, and cultural contexts. This shall be achieved by looking at a range of case studies from tourism in Eastern Europe, in which Sehnsucht appears in different forms. For this dimension the following perspectives carry relevance:

Sehnsucht from trans-national, trans-social, and trans-cultural perspective

How does Sehnsucht for a ‘place’ evolve and develop in socio-cultural e.g. national groups? Are there trans-national, trans-social or trans-cultural tourists’ Sehnsüchte and Sehnsuchtsorte? Can Sehnsuchtsorte be viewed as elements of cultural, national and social semiotic systems, and if so how do they fit in?

Emotion and attachment

What meanings does Sehnsucht have as an emotion for the individual and for groups? How and in what contexts is it individually described and publicly represented? What emotional attachments, belonging and spaces of intimacy exist between places of longing (Sehnsuchtsorten) and the ones who are longing (Sehnende)? What emotional fractures and frictions are there? What role does foreignness play?

Senses, knowledge and performance

How are places imagined sensually, how is space imagined as sensory space? How do bodies and forms of spatial knowledge develop and how are they touristically applied? What are the performances that are related to a specific Sehnsuchtsort or express Sehnsucht?

Memory and memorisation

What role do different forms of memory and memorisation play for the development of Sehnsuchtsorten? What correlations are there between lieux de mémoire and Sehnsuchtsorten?

Data and methodology

How can we study tourists’ Sehnsucht und Sehnsuchtsorte interdisciplinary? What sources and data are relevant, and how can we access/gather these? What methods of analysis can be used? How can we intelligently apply e.g. the extensive research on lieux de mémoire, on tourism geographies, and nostalgia to the analysis of Sehnsuchtsorten?