Ross Bennett-Cook

Resorts of Escapism

Supervisors: Andrew Smith, Maja Jovic, Ilaria Pappalepore

THIS PHD EXAMINES how tourist resorts, typically designed for foreign visitors, are used by local residents and domestic tourists in Turkey. Tourism is acknowledged for its influence on modernising and Westernising societies, as tourists often bring their cultural norms and practices with them. Correspondingly, tourist resorts often become bubbles of this Western lifestyle, transforming into pleasure zones of escapism and freedom. In countries where autocracy is on the rise, these tourist spaces can hold a new significance for local people. What happens when a country that is popular with tourists begins to revert away from Westernisation? What happens to the highly Westernised tourist resorts that are left behind?

Using Turkey as a case study, the PhD explores the relationship that locals have with the country’s Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines; places retaining an overwhelming Westernised European atmosphere, liberal attitudes and sociocultural structure during rapid shifts towards conservatism and religiosity elsewhere in the country.

Under the current government’s staunchly conservative leadership, Turkey is torn: there are those who support a more religious outlook for the country, and those who long for the Westernised and secularist orientation the country was founded on. Resorts have become a place where people can leave the country culturally without physically leaving its borders. Through interviews with Turks who live and travel to tourist resorts, this project will examine their relationship with such places, how and why they are attracted to them, and how they act as a liminal space between East and West. Turkey’s peripheral position between Europe and Asia, its trans-cultural identity, its complex history with religion and secularism, and its current political climate are considered throughout the thesis.

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