In September, I’ll be giving a plenary for the ISSM conference, “The Global Middle Ages,” on–what else–Game of Thrones. Abstract (subject to change) is below:
Pilgrimages of Thrones: Game of Thrones Tourism and the Medieval Pilgrimage
Pilgrimages have been a staple of religion and travel since early in human history. However, as travel has gotten easier and popular culture has grown in scope and accessibility, the lines between “tourism” and “pilgrimage” have blurred. This is especially evident in film-induced tourism, in which people take trips specifically to see sites linked to television shows or movies. As Game of Thrones had shooting locations all over Europe and northern Africa, rather than just a Hollywood studio lot, tourism to many of these locations has increased significantly, with noticeable impacts on economies, residents, and architecture—for better or for worse. Why do people feel the need to visit real places that stand in for fictional ones, and how does that affect the real places in question? And what similarities—if any—do these trips have with the medieval pilgrimage?