Places of the imagination: An ethnography of the TV detective tour

Stijn Reijnders*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers the phenomenon of the TV detective tour, guided tours of the locations and settings of popular TV detective programs. What explains the growing popularity of these tours? The article proposes that the locations in question serve as physical points of reference to an imagined world. By visiting these locations and focusing on them, tourists are able to construct and subsequently cross a symbolic boundary between an 'imagined' and a 'real' world. To explain this process, a new concept is introduced: lieux d'imagination. This concept is supported and developed on the basis of ethnographic analysis of three popular TV detective tours: the Inspector Morse Tour in Oxford, the Baantjer Tour in Amsterdam, and the Wallander Tour in Ystad, Sweden. In all, 31 interviews were conducted with tourist office employees, tour guides, local inhabitants, and tourists; these interviews were supplemented with participatory observation. Analysis of interview transcripts and observation records shows that lieux d'imagination result from a complex process of negotiation and appropriation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-52
Number of pages16
JournalCultural Geographies (print)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

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