‘The man from New Line knocked on the door’: Tourism, media power, and Hobbiton/Matamata as boundaried space

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This study investigates the emergence and maintenance of tourist activity surrounding the film location site of ‘Hobbiton’, constructed during the filming of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.The paper engages the theoretical propositions of Nick Couldry, who detects the presence of media power in those places that are boundaried as ‘special’ in terms of their mediation and that motivate certain reificational behaviors and attitudes in their visitors. Moreover, the paper considers Michel de Certeau's location of the subversion of power structures in what he calls the ‘enunciation’ of discursive material. Reporting on ethnographic fieldwork, including participant observation of the tour experience and interviews with Hobbiton tourism providers, local community members, and the owners of the property in question, the study concludes that the activity surrounding Hobbiton is emblematic of an embodied assent to the kind of normative media categories named in Couldry's work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
JournalTourist Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2010



  • The Lord of the Rings
  • consumption
  • frontstage/backstage
  • globalization
  • identity
  • media anthropology
  • media power
  • performance
  • runaway production

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