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The Ecosemiotics of Human-Wolf Relations in a Northern Tourist Economy: A Case Study

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This article investigates the use of wolves to enchant the rationalization of Thompson Manitoba. The city attempted to refocus towards a more touristic economy based around the large wolf population in the surrounding regions. The paper also examines why this attempt at a tourist economy has not produced its intended results. I accomplish this by first discussing the McDonaldization and enchantment of the city. This discussion is framed through George Ritzer and Jeffery C. Alexander’s work. I then integrate Umwelt analysis by focusing on Timo Maran’s Umwelt mapping to create a comparative approach in which wolf Umwelts within rationalized and enchanted settings can be compared to those in situ. I then make use of qualitative data analysis (QDA) to code a corpus of 50 articles from a local online newspaper that discuss the development of the tourism economy. Accordingly, I apply the theoretical perspectives mentioned to the QDA codes and themes. In the discussion section and conclusion of this paper, I note that wolf Umwelt was largely incompatible with the rationalizing system created within the city and that the use of wolves as enchantment relied on motifs of overly hyperreal intersubjectivity between humans and wolves. Consequently, collective representation regarding the tourist initiative was not constructed by this rationalization and enchantment.

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Nelly Mäekivi, Timo Maran, the reviewers, and the editors.


The research for this paper was supported by the Estonian Research Council grant PRG1504 “Meanings of endangered species in culture: ecology, semiotic modeling and reception”.

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AMC wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Andrew Mark Creighton.

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Creighton, A.M. The Ecosemiotics of Human-Wolf Relations in a Northern Tourist Economy: A Case Study. Biosemiotics (2024).

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