Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (8): 2048-2066.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202108016

• Transportation and Tourism Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The interpretation of place meaning and the expression of self-concept: A case study of Tibet drifters in Lhasa, Tibet

BAI Kai1,2(), WANG Bolin1   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710119, China
    2. Shaanxi Tourism Information Engineering Laboratory, Xi'an 710119, China
  • Received:2020-06-08 Revised:2021-02-20 Online:2021-08-25 Published:2021-10-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42071186);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41671144)


Tibet drifters, a typical group who utilize special place to fight against the negative effects of modernity, have special life courses of drifting in Tibet which can provide vivid cases for the study about mutual-construction mechanism between self and place. Based on the research data collected through semi-structured interviews and field observation, this study analyzes the evolution of the relationship between Tibet drifters' self-expression and place meaning under different spatial and temporal conditions from the micro diachronic perspective. The results show that the relationship has significant characteristics in different periods: During the mismatch period, Tibet drifters strengthen their self-expression by understanding Tibet as a "poetic paradise"; during the adaptation period, while continuing to pursue an indulgent self-concept, Tibet drifters also produce highly subjective and individual place meaning; during the selection period, as Tibet is becoming more modern and individuals are entering new life stages, Tibet drifters gradually develop diverse self-expressions and place meanings. On this basis, the study argues that the spatio-temporal interaction between Tibet drifters' self-expression and place meaning can be manifested as continuous pursuit of authentic meaning at different periods. In the whole process of sojourning to Tibet, this authentic meaning is expressed as ordinal arrangement from self-authenticity, experiential authenticity to value authenticity, which shows an extrapolating trend from self to friends, family and place. The main contribution of this study is to clarify the presentation of periods and development pattern of the core meaning of human-land relationship in the process of Tibet drifters' search for self-restoration and place support from two basic points of self and place at the same time, in order to provide a useful supplement for exploring the evolution pattern of sojourners' value pursuit, the linkage mechanism of human-land relationship and the modernization development of ethnic areas.

Key words: Tibet drifter, place meaning, self-expression, modernity, Lhasa