Representation of cultural Others in tourism texts is an important concern. Thus far, analyses of mass-mediated tourism representations have focused on promotional materials produced by for-profit agencies or by governments charged with encouraging development through tourism. Lacking have been assessments of materials produced by non-profit brokers with humanitarian missions. This study interrogates the promotional literature of one such agency, Semester at Sea (SAS), to determine whether its representational practices differ from the mainstream. Grounded in postcolonial theory and employing content, semiotic, and discourse analysis, it argues that although SAS embraces a mission of promoting cross-cultural interaction and global citizenship, the program nevertheless continues to (re)produce hegemonic depictions of non-Westerners, asserting a Western superiority ideology by polarizing the West and the Rest into binaries of modern-traditional, technologically advanced-backward, and master -servant and decomplexifying the globalization process by presenting the non-West as exotic, culturally pristine, and filled with happy natives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-204
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Discourse
  • Imagery
  • Postcolonial theory
  • Promotion
  • Representation
  • Study abroad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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