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International Conference "Branding Mediterranean Europe: Tourism, Transport, and National Identity, 1945-1990", Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Rethymno, Crete, 8-10 June 2023

29-05-2023 11:58

In the last 60 years, the number of tourists in European Mediterranean countries has multiplied exponentially. In these countries, tourism is one of the largest service industries, therefore building a successful, destination brand is of major concern for the economy. It has also, however, societal and ideational consequences. Competing for the same ‘product’ of tourism on a global scale forms a huge part of nation branding. The narrative and imagery of a country’s attractions feeds into the construction and revamping of national identities. In this sense, tourism can become a map to guide our study of discursive, ideational and cultural changes in Mediterranean Europe, particularly in the period from 1945-1989 but also understand the impact of these discourses on cultural identity; for each one of the countries and the history of Southern Europe as a whole. Management and tourism scholars have long investigated the economic and branding implications of this phenomenon, while in recent years, anthropologists and sociologists have discovered the value of the study of tourism. Yet, the historical depth of their approaches is typically quite limited. We are interested in addressing this lacuna in the period from 1945-1990.

Looking at Mediterranean Europe’s tourism offers an invaluable opportunity to write global history from the perspective of small states that developed into popular tourist hubs. What are the advantages of ‘smallness ‘and how did these countries generate a policy with a global reach and international and national consequences? To distil a place’s identity is a complex process that involves a network of multiple stakeholders at local, national, and international level, often with competing interests that attempt to shape a place’s image. The so called ‘holiday makers’ from tour companies, advertising agencies, public authorities and planners, state tourist organisations, graphic designers, national airlines executives and cruise lines produced visual stimuli and textual messaging to familiarise vacations to the mass public. The conference aims to foster an interdisciplinary discussion that, through case studies, mobilises methodological tools from a broad spectrum of fields. These include history of international relations, economic, social, and political history, business history, cold war studies, public diplomacy, visual culture, and communication studies also informed by sociological approaches.

Register to participate online at the link below:

There will be a live stream available on YouTube.


Detailed Programme

Thursday, 8 June 2023

9:30 – 10:00 Introductory remarks: Eirini Karamouzi and Gelina Harlaftis

Coffee and refreshments

10:00- 12:00 PANEL 1: Southern European tourist practices

Discussant: Eirini Karamouzi

• Christos Aliprantis, Tourism, and policing in Cold War Greece, 1950-1974.

• Luis Martinez del Campo, ‘The Best of Both Worlds: Branding Gibraltar as a Tourist Destination, 1950-1990.

• Adeline Stefan, Building leisure spaces on the Costa del Sol and Romanian Black Sea Coast, 1950-1970s.

• Antoni Vives Riera, From different Spain to observed Majora: tourism, environmental and identity in the Mediterranean paradise.

12:00 - 12:15 COFFEE

12:15 -14:00 PANEL 2: Business of Branding and Tourism

Discussant: Michalis Karavantzis

• Rory Archer, Private Entrepreneurs in a socialist state: Albanian small businesses on Yugoslavia’s Adriatic coast during the Cold War (1945-1989).

• Maria Psimouli & Stella Kladou, Names and Frames: Exploring Brand consistency through the lens of identity.

• Andrew Smith, Building a French Florida and the ‘touristification’ of Midi.

14:00-15:00 LUNCH

15:00- 17:00 PANEL 3: Cinema induced Tourism.

Discussant: Vassilis Vamvakas

• Rui Lopes, Touristic Thrillers: Integrating Southern Europe through 1960s spy films.

• Mado Spyropoulou, The image of Greece through the official selection of the Festival de Cannes.

• Paolo Villa, The Garden of Empire. Italy as a tourist destination in Hollywood movies (1950-1965).

17:30 - 19:00 ROUNDTABLE: How to think about tourism and nation branding?

Chair: Gelina Harlaftis

Panelists: Angelos Vlachos; Michalis Karavantzis; Evripides Zantides


Friday, 09 June 2023

9:00-930 COFFEE

9:30-11:30 PANEL 4: Cultures of Greek Tourism

Discussant: Evripides Zantides

• Stavros Alifragkis & Emilia Athanassiou, Inventing the Greek summer: ‘Boy on a Dolphin’ and the Emerging Cultures of Tourism in the 1950s and 1960s Greece.

• Odysseas Garganas, The development and shaping of Greek national identity through tourism images and representations. The case of the GNTO posters (1945-1990).

• Vasilis Vamvakas &Panayis Panagiotopoulos, Iconic Greece: the post-war image of Greekness abroad.

• Poppy Sfakianaki, Messages de la Grèce: an illustrated magazine seeking to revive French tourism to Greece in 1946.

11:30-12:00: COFFEE

12:00 -14:00 PANEL 5: The role of Transport

Discussant: Angelos Vlachos

• Eirini Karamouzi (University of Sheffield/American College of Greece), The advertising campaign of Olympic Airways, 1957-1990.

• Gelina Harlaftis(IMS/FORTH), From sailing to selling the sea: Shipping business and the business of tourism in Greece, 1945-1975.

• Alexandra Papadopoulou(IMS/FORTH), Between the Greek state and the Onassis business group. The foundation and evolution of the Greek national flag air carrier.

• Ilias Bissias, Panayiotis Korakas, Maria Lekakou, Ferries Lines between Italy and Greece: Building a “marine highway” for tourism between Central Europe and the East Mediterranean.

14:00-15:00 LUNCH

15:00- 17:00 PANEL 6: Tourism and Counterculture

Discussant: Michalis Nikolakakis

• Anita Buhin, In pursuit of Yugoslav men: eroticization of the Adriatic through romantic encounters.

• Javier Cuevas del Barrio (online), Tourism, Economic Development Policies and Counterculture during the Franco Dictatorship in Spain: the case of Torremolinos.

• Marina Simic & Milos Nicic, Alternative seaside. Imaginaries of Greece among Yugoslav tourists, 1974-1990.

• Mary Ikoniadou, Cold War re-presentations of the Aegean landscape

17:30-19:30 PANEL 7: Tourism and Southern European Identity

Discussant: Mary Ikoniadou

• Ana Quintas, Paula Costa Soares and Rui Alexandre, Identity, Ideology and Tourism: Portugal in the magazine Panorama (1941-1949).

• Carlos Bartolo, “The true oasis of a tormented, devastated Europe”: The early stages of tourism state policies in Portugal occurring during the Second World War.

• Lucia Rodriquez Carcia de Herreros & Gabriel Gonzalez, ‘I meditterannei si voltano’. An analysis of the catch calling imaginary of Spain and Italy through the 1950s and 1960s cinema and photography.


This conference is co-organized by the University of Sheffield, Centre of Excellence Food, Tourism and Leisure at the American College of Greece and the Institute of Mediterranean Studies, with the generous support of Research England.


Scientific Committee:

Mary Ikoniadou (Leeds Beckett University); Gelina Harlaftis (IMS/FORTH & University of Crete); Eirini Karamouzi (University of Sheffield/American College of Greece); Panayis Panagiotopoulos (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens); Vasilis Vamvakas (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)


Action and update of the Greek Economic History Association website, is funded by the Ioannis S.Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, under the 2016 Support Program for Scientific Companies