The Da Vinci Node: Networks of Neo-pilgrimage in the European Cosmopolis

By Rodanthi Tzanelli.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper explores how the Da Vinci Code, a novel by Dan Brown, and its cinematic adaptation (2006) operate as a ‘node’ for European capitalist networks of corporeal and virtual travel. Re-examining the convergence, as well as the divergence of patterns and practices of early travel and contemporary tourism, the paper discusses the centrality of technologies of “gazing” upon other cultures and of collecting cultural signs to the global networks of contemporary (digitized or corporeal) travel. It is argued that the film and the novel assist in the interpellation of a new type of traveler, what is termed here a neo-pilgrim. The mobilization of neo-pilgrimage by global tourist networks also indicates a kind of staged cosmopolitanism that originates in conceptions of the cosmopolitan as the epistemological subject of Enlightenment political philosophy. Contrariwise, however, the cosmopolitanism of the Da Vinci Code democratizes the consumption of what used to be regarded as high culture, reserved exclusively for the old, aristocratic, elites of Europe. It will be argued that the novel and the film break away from established codes of authorship in cultural production while debating the emergence of a new service class of professional travelers whose fleeting visits to museums, galleries, luxury hotels and boulevards operate as both unacknowledged touring of commoditised European heritage and an aspect of personal self-betterment and self-education.

Keywords: Cosmopolitanism, Democratisation, Europe, Heritage, Mobility, Neo-pilgrim, Tourist Gaze, Travel

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.113-128. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 650.617KB).

Dr. Rodanthi Tzanelli

Lecturer, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

Rodanthi Tzanelli is a lecturer in Sociology and deputy director, Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, UK. Her interests include the critical study of national identities, the anthropology of cosmopolitanism and globalization, the politics and ethics of culture industries and representations of deviancy, areas on which she has published in international journals (e.g. Development, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Nations and Nationalism and European Journal of Cultural Studies). She is the author of The Cinematic Tourist: Explorations in Globalization, Culture and Resistance (Routledge: International Library of Sociology, 2007), Nation-Building and Identity in Europe: The Dialogics of Reciprocity (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008) and The ‘Greece’ of Britain and the ‘Britain’ of Greece (VDM, 2009). She is currently working on a monograph concerning clashes and fusions of heritage with tourist simulacra, as well as the role of heritage discourse in constructions of national character(s).

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