Auschwitz. Hiroshima. Cambodia's killing fields. The World Trade Center. The mass graves of Rwanda. These places of violent death have become part of the landscape of tourism, an industry that is otherwise dedicated to pleasure and escape. In dark places like concentration camps, prisons, battlegrounds, and the sites of natural disasters, how are memory and trauma mediated by this thanatourism, or tourism of death? In Death Tourism , Brigitte Sion brings together essays by some of the most trenchant voices in the field to look at the tensions created by the juxtaposition of human remains and food stands, political agendas and educational programs, ecomic development and architectural ambition. How does a state redefine its national identity after catastrophic trauma? And what is the role of this kind of tourism in defining their new identity? A timely volume on an irresistible subject, this inquiry exposes the intersection of leisure with the inhumane, giving insight into how people respectfully share a public space that is both free and sacred, compelling and tragic.
Brigitte Sion is a fellow at the Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, a joint initiative of the French National Center for Scientific Research and New York University. She is also the author of the forthcoming Absent Bodies, Uncertain Memorials: Performing Memory in Berlin and Buenos Aires.