Since February 2013, Nicky van Es (1988) is working as a PhD candidate in the Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture (ERMeCC) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, on the NWO-funded project entitled: ‘Locating Imagination: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Literary, Film and Music Tourism’ (supervised by dr. Stijn Reijnders).

Nicky studied Sociology (BA) and recently finished his Research Master Sociology of Culture, Media and the Arts (MA) in the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSW) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. His BA thesis focused on deconstructing the relation between income inequality and mental health issues in developed countries, through comparison with the macro-level effects of neo-liberalistic sentiments and cultural insecurity (anomie) on mental well-being during the past decades.

His MA thesis revolved around problematizing the underlying assumption in the contemporary debate of online video-games that national identity and nationality are increasingly less tenable dispositions in the virtual worlds of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games [MMORPG’s], in favor of a more ‘culturally open’ (or: cosmopolitan) disposition. Taking the immensely popular MMORPG, The World of Warcraft (WoW), and its European player-base as a case-study, the results have shown that national identity and instances of nationalism remain salient within the game itself on multiple levels, and prove to be a heated topic of debate within the European WoW-community.

In 2013 Nicky will engage in his sub-project on literary tourism, to investigate how contemporary popular literature feeds the imagination of tourists and subsequently literally move them across geographical borders to visit the places central to the novels they’ve read. In addition to these underlying meanings which are ascribed to this practice by the tourists themselves, attention will be paid to local authorities, residents, tourist agencies and other organizations who are involved in creating and maintaining a ‘literary experience’ of places in Europe.