American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
November 16-20, 2011; Montreal, Quebec
Taku Suzuki (Denison University), Joy Sather-Wagstaff (North Dakota
Embodied encounters with legacies of violence: Movement, memory, tourism
Anthropologists' interest in tourism to sites of and/or memorials to
mass deaths or violence in the past, often referred to as thanatourism
or "dark" tourism (Rojek and Urry 1997; Seaton 1999; Foley and Lennon
2000), has dramatically increased in the past decade. However, the
majority of available ethnographic studies continue to focus on
tourists' motivations for, and interpretations of, their visits of
these sites. What has been largely absent in these studies is rigorous
inquiries into the distinct physicality of these sites and human
experiences there. They have often overlooked the profound
psychological effects that the materiality of these sites has on
visitors. In addition, visitors shape their understanding of the past
and present through embodied, polysensual encounter with sites as
counterpart to mere cognitive engagement.
The papers in this session seek to interrogate various modes,
movements, and moments of tourists' embodied encounters with
landscapes, architecture, and artifacts that mark sites of past
violence. Do different materials and venues of commemoration (e.g.,
monument, museum, or memorial park) and landscapes of the site (e.g.,
urban or rural, constructed or naturalistic) shape the visitors'
memory practices differently? Do different modes of movements (e.g.,
group tours, backpacking, or pilgrimage) and bodily interactions with
the sites (e.g., seeing, listening, smelling, or touching) by visitors
create different interpretations of the past events? How does the
combination of materiality of these memoryscapes and visitors'
corporeal engagement with these sites influence the ongoing production
of particular historical legacies?
The papers included in this session address these questions through
ethnographic analyses of various memoryscapes of violence that have
become destinations for a wide range of visitors. These include former
slave forts in Ghana, U.S. veterans' battlefield tours in Vietnam,
Japanese "peace education" tours to the former battlefields in
Okinawa, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (*** More topics would
be added***). By providing geographically and demographically diverse
case-studies of embodied memory-making--and forgetting--of past
tragedies practiced in tourism, the session illuminates how collective
memories of these pasts and understandings of their legacies in the
present are constantly negotiated through people's physical encounters
with material traces of the past.
Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to Taku Suzuki
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and cc to Joy Sather-Wagstaff
(Joy.Sather-Wagstaff@ndsu.edu). Abstracts are due by April 7th, and
you will be informed of the final decisions by 10th. Any questions
about the proposed panel should be sent to Suzuki's e-mail address.
Please note that the final session description will be altered to suit
the topics addressed and questions raised by the papers that are