Paths to Post-Nationalism: A Critical Ethnography of Language and Identity

By Monica Heller | Go to book overview

7
Selling the Nation, Saving the Market
(All Over the Place, 2001-Present)

7.1 AUTHENTICITY AND LANGUAGE
IN THE NEW ECONOMY

The Festival du Village was not the only festival of its type to be developed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, reflecting the general growth of the tertiary economy, particularly its tourism sector (Urry 2002; Jaworski and Pritchard 2005). However, while anglophone towns mainly looked to themes more or less connected to local traits (from pumpkins to Disneyland), francophone areas tended to concentrate on combinations of heritage and environment. Quebec had already begun to organize its tourist market in this way, capitalizing on an older tourist infrastructure aimed at wealthy English-speakers from Montreal, Quebec City, and the large urban centers of the northeastern United States. More recently, Quebec has actively cultivated a market in francophone Europe, for which francophone North America represents breathing space, the possibility of self-reinvention, some nostalgia for lost empire, and contemporary Romantic environmentalism. Quebec also mobilized the representations of memory and tradition that emerged out of the mobilization movement of the 1960s (Handler 1988), reworking them for both local and far-flung audiences. The RDÉE helped other parts of francophone Canada to do the same.

In addition to local festivals, we saw broader attempts at marketing regional histories and identities, as well as specific tourist products like large-scale heritage pageants, various kinds of stage and musical shows and festivals, and so-called “living museums” (re-creations of historical sites). Quebec has organized its tourism marketing by carving up the province into distinct “regions,” each of which is marketed in campaigns mainly directed at the United States and France as offering something different. In 2004, the Chambre économique de l’Alberta published a tourist guide called L’Alberta: L’autre belle province. Through its reference to Quebec’s traditional label as la belle province (the beautiful province; this was on Quebec license plates until it was replaced with Je me souviens, or “I remember”), the title aims at both Québécois tourists and

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