‘A Summer Place’

Rune Bennike

in Darjeeling Reconsidered

Published in print July 2018 | ISBN: 9780199483556
Published online July 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780199097692 | DOI:
‘A Summer Place’

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  • Social Movements and Social Change
  • Political Sociology
  • Sociology


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From the tales of nineteenth century British explorers to contemporary tourism advertising, representations of Darjeeling circulate far and wide. Across more than a century and a half, Darjeeling is repeatedly pictured as ‘a summer place’: a picturesque landscape of misty tea gardens, quaint cottages, and elusive mountain views. This chapter explores the colonial origins and historical persistence of this ‘tourist gaze’ in producing Darjeeling. Approaching this representational history from a vantage point grounded in the questions of belonging forcefully raised by the Gorkhaland movement, the chapter illustrates how commodified Darjeeling is defined more by its scenery than by its inhabitants, pictured as a place you visit rather than a place of belonging, and sold as a consumable good. It argues that, as this tourist gaze leaves notions of inhabitation and belonging obscured, its global reach and historical persistence complicates ongoing quests for local autonomy in Darjeeling.

Keywords: Darjeeling; Gorkhaland; commodification; tourist gaze; representation; landscape; belonging

Chapter.  7208 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change ; Political Sociology ; Sociology

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