Re-inventing Europe: The case of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela as European heritage and the political and economic discourses of cultural unity
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This paper argues that the enthusiasm for heritage tourism that has developed in Europe in the past three decades is inextricably tied to the political project of the European Union and its drive to create cultural coherence in a multinational, multicultural continent. I explore the ways in which the 'heritage-scape' of Europe, in particular its pilgrimage routes, are portrayed as emblems of European values and culture. I claim that these values are built on selective readings of history and a romantic re-imagining of the past that serve present political and economic ends. Through peripheral pilgrimage sites and routes, messages about cultural unity are disseminated, and the reproduction of an ideal of 'unity in diversity' is brought to centre stage in the politics of the Union. I exemplify this process with a description of the pan-European network of pilgrim routes that now forms the largely re-invented Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Copyright © 2016 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.