Relocating Persia/Iran in the contemporary British tourist imaginary

Masood Khodadadi*, Hugh O'Donnell

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper examines the construction of three different Persias in British cultural tourists’ accounts of their encounters with Iran and its inhabitants and with its Persian heritage. One – which we call Persia-the-Dead – is materialised in the ancient and monumental, and is at the same time heavily mediated by long-standing discourses of Ancient Persia in British and European cultures more generally. A second – which we call Persia-the-Living – is mediated by the same largely Orientalist discourses, but its mobilisation is inflected to include the tourists’ reactions to encounters with Iranians themselves. What finally emerges is a version of what we propose to call Persia-the-British, which combines both perspectives within an analysis of how Orientalist representations of Persia are simultaneously reinforced, updated and at least partially refocused in the encounter between the living and the dead.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-145
Number of pages14
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number2
Early online date25 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • cultural heritage
  • cultural tourism
  • Iran tourism
  • visual analysis

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