Ingle, M (2010), “Making the Most of ‘Nothing’: Astro-tourism, the Sublime, and the Karoo as a ‘space destination’”, Transformation 74:87-111.
In recent years perceptions of South Africa’s arid Karoo have been radically transformed. Whereas the Karoo was once regarded as a desolate wasteland, it is now being punted as a positively trendy region, both to live in and to explore. Many enterprising niche tourism operators have positioned themselves to profit from this phenomenon. This article briefly articulates the concept of ‘the Sublime’ and shows how the nexus of cognitive associations suggested by ‘space’ and ‘nothingness’ is being harnessed to rebrand the Karoo as a dynamic and desirable destination. The paper also reflects on how these developments might redound to the benefit of local communities and flags some of the tensions occasioned by the intrusion of tourism into a relatively undeveloped region.
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