Not a ‘Museum Town’: Discussions of Authenticity in Coastal Denmark

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This article investigates community perceptions of authenticity in connection to the fishing and tourism sectors and the relationships therein. Inspired by fieldwork in three Danish coastal communities, the article attends to discussions on fishing, tourism, and change, in which residents referred to ‘museum’ or ‘museum town’ as shorthand for an undesirable transformation. The article answers: (1) what are the underlying concerns of becoming a ‘museum town?’ and (2) how is authenticity employed by community members in connection to desirable and undesirable outcomes of transition? The analysis probes the ‘museum town’ expression as a means to understand host communities’ relationship to the fishing and tourism sectors and their expressed interest toward authenticity. Empirical material from semistructured interviews and ethnographic field observations initiates the thematic analysis, which then continues with a theoretical reflection on authenticity. Coastal community members understood authenticity through demonstrations of realness, waterfront and community activity, and a desired independence for the fishing industry. Being authentic required a working fleet, which carried deeper implications for transformation and the complementarity of tourism, as opposed to its suitability as a substitute for the fishing industry. Calls for the fishing industry to remain independent highlight the importance for cross-sector dialogue for local development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Tourism and Cultural Change
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)285-305
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Authenticity
  • transition
  • coastal communities
  • fisheries
  • resident perception


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