The ‘awkward’ geopolitics of tourism in China’s ‘Arctic’ Village

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Based on the case study of the ‘Arctic’ Village (Mohe, China), a popular tourist site renowned as China’s northernmost point and the best Chinese site to view the northern lights, this article investigates China’s ‘indigenising’ Arctic tourism that transcends conventional geographical boundaries of the Arctic Circle. It introduces ‘awkwardness’ as an empirical affect and an analytical concept to chart the way the village’s tourism practices and perceptions reinforce, challenge, and diverge from the state-centred account of China’s Arctic aspirations and re-territorialising efforts. Under the framework of an ‘awkward’ geopolitics of tourism, three interrelated types of awkwardness are analysed: embodied awkwardness, identity awkwardness, and demonstrative awkwardness. Each concerns a distinct geopolitical facet of village tourism at the spatialities of the body, village, and museum. The main argument is that affective experience not only mediates geopolitical power in tourism practices but also conceptually reconfigures the nexus between tourism and geopolitics across multiple scales. Incorporating awkwardness into tourism studies advances affective tourism and tourism geopolitics by offering an affective lens to reconceptualise contradictions, ruptures, and ambiguities inherent in associating geopolitics with mundane tourism practices and perceptions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalTourism Geographies
Early online date27 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2023


  • affect
  • Arctic
  • ‘Arctic’ Village
  • awkwardness
  • China
  • museum
  • northern lights
  • northernmost
  • tourism
  • tourism geopolitics

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