Negotiating Nostalgia: The Rhetoricity of Thylacine Representation in Tasmanian Tourism

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire;, Email:

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The recently extinct thylacine, endemic to Australia, has become a potent cultural icon in the state of Tasmania, with implications for Australian ecotourism and Tasmanian conservation strategies. While the thylacine's iconicity has been analyzed by naturalists and cultural historians, its significance in Tasmanian tourism has yet to be examined. Thylacine representations in tourism-related writings and images, because of their high degree of ambivalence, function as a rich site of conflicting values regarding national identity and native species protection. Drawing on cultural studies of the thylacine and constructivist theories of tourism, this study identifies and documents three polarities in thylacine representation: the thylacine as wild yet domesticated, present yet absent, and an Australian national—yet distinctly regional—subject. A close reading of contradictory textual and visual elements in tourist guides, travel writing, specialized maps, and museum exhibits illuminates ongoing debates about Australian econationalism in the global tourism economy.

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