Grief Tourism and Public Memory: A Comparative Perspective

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The term grief tourism (also called dark tourism or Thanatourism) was coined in 1997 to describe the phenomenon of traveling to historic sites related to tragedy or disaster. This paper will examine and compare some of the most visited sites of such atrocities, including European concentration camps related to the Holocaust, Ground Zero in New York City, and the killing fields in Cambodia to examine the following questions: What motivates visitors to seek such sites? How is the past commemorated and presented at the sites? Finally, what do these sites reveal about the politics of public memory?


Keywords: Public memory, Grief tourism, Historic sites, Commemoration
Stream: Aesthetics, Design
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Deconstructing Grief Tourism


Dr. Catherine Lewis

Associate Professor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA

Dr. Catherine Lewis is an Associate Professor of History and Director of Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University. She is the author of seven books, including The Changing Face of Public History: The Chicago Historical Society and the Transformation of an American History Museum. In addition to her work at KSU, she is a curator and special projects coordinator at the Atlanta History Center, having curated more than 25 exhibitions. She holds a B.A. in English and History from Emory University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa.

Ref: H08P0088