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Travels from Winterfell to King’s Landing: The imaginary geographies of Game of Thrones and the creation of new transnational heritage landscapes through pop-culture

DOPPELHOFER, CHRISTOPH (2022) Travels from Winterfell to King’s Landing: The imaginary geographies of Game of Thrones and the creation of new transnational heritage landscapes through pop-culture. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The fantasy series Game of Thrones (2011–2019) has become a global pop-cultural phenomenon with a reach far beyond the television screen. Through extensive on-location filming, the series has linked its diegetic world of Westeros and Essos to countless heritage sites across Northern Ireland, Croatia, Spain, Iceland, Malta and Morocco, overcoding them with their on-screen identities through narratives and special effects. Fictional locations such as ‘Winterfell’ or ‘King’s Landing’ have since become popular tourist destinations, leading to an emergence of countless tours, experiences, products, and destination marketing intended to sell the ‘authentic’ fantasy to those who are seeking these imaginary geographies. However, Game of Thrones’ manifestations across its filming locations go beyond tourist products but created a complex landscape of new spatial, visual, material, and performative signifiers. Re-framing and restaging scenes, dressing up and using fictional toponyms while documenting and sharing these performances through social media photography have territorialised the diegetic heritage of Game of Thrones onto the filming locations. These practices have created liminal spaces that share aspects of pilgrimage, heritage- and nation-building processes, and established a new transnational heritage space with its own transnational imagined community, habitus and ‘hyper-traditions’. Furthermore, these new diegetic heritage landscapes are affecting previously established global perceptions and local identities. The post-conflict contexts of Northern Ireland and Dubrovnik illustrate how asserting new narratives, even if they are entirely fictional, can both overcome and create dissonant heritage as well as resolve and evoke memory conflicts. A multi-sited visual ethnography has been undertaken across Game of Thrones’ filming locations in Northern Ireland (UK), Dalmatia (Croatia) and Andalusia (Spain) to examine not only how Game of Thrones specifically has impacted the filming locations but how modern mass-media, social media and pop-culture is affecting how heritage is created, used and engaged with in the 21st century.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Game of Thrones; diegetic heritage; visual culture; imaginary geographies; cultural heritage; heritage tourism; social media; pop culture; post-conflict heritage; transnationalism;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Nov 2022 15:35

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