Urban Tourism and Identity

Hungarian Travellers in Paris, 1918-1940

in Journeys
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This article discusses the conflicting experience Hungarian travellers had with interwar Paris. For Hungarians travelling to Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, urban tourism was an activity through which various sets of identities based on foreignness and difference were constantly invented, tested, and culturally negotiated. However, while mass tourism allowed Hungarians to 'see all of Paris', it impeded them from inscribing their presence in the city. As an alternative to this ontological impasse, the Parisian novels (written by more than two dozen interwar Hungarian authors who experienced the city both as tourists and temporary residents) put an emphasis not upon seeing but on living in the city. Thus the Hungarian ethnoscape of Paris brought-up for interwar travellers an identity shaping choice between either 'being' present-tense Parisians (i.e. non-tourists) in an ontological sense (a negative identity negotiated at the level of sameness opening for them the doors of cultural assimilation) or that of relating their identity to a temporal ethnoscape (based on residential transience, sightseeing and ethnic difference) that constantly challenged, marred and re-structured Paris' urban representation.

Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing