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Darjeeling ReconsideredHistories, Politics, Environments$
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Townsend Middleton and Sara Shneiderman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199483556

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199483556.001.0001

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‘A Summer Place’

‘A Summer Place’

Darjeeling in the Tourist Gaze

(p.54) 2 ‘A Summer Place’
Darjeeling Reconsidered

Rune Bennike

Oxford University Press

From the tales of nineteenth century British explorers to contemporary tourism advertising, representations of Darjeeling circulate far and wide. Across more than a century and a half, Darjeeling is repeatedly pictured as ‘a summer place’: a picturesque landscape of misty tea gardens, quaint cottages, and elusive mountain views. This chapter explores the colonial origins and historical persistence of this ‘tourist gaze’ in producing Darjeeling. Approaching this representational history from a vantage point grounded in the questions of belonging forcefully raised by the Gorkhaland movement, the chapter illustrates how commodified Darjeeling is defined more by its scenery than by its inhabitants, pictured as a place you visit rather than a place of belonging, and sold as a consumable good. It argues that, as this tourist gaze leaves notions of inhabitation and belonging obscured, its global reach and historical persistence complicates ongoing quests for local autonomy in Darjeeling.

Keywords:   Darjeeling, Gorkhaland, commodification, tourist gaze, representation, landscape, belonging

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