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Tour Guides as Creators of Empathy: The Role of Affective Inequality in Marginalizing the Enslaved at Plantation House Museums



Criticized for ignoring or misrepresenting slavery, some docents at plantation house museums have responded by including more references to slavery, but rarely move beyond mere factual references of the enslaved. This contrasts with the emotionally evocative accounts tourists hear about the planter-class family. We refer to this disparity as affective inequality. At plantation house museums, affective inequality is created and reproduced through specific spatial and narrative practices by tour guides. By retracing docent-led tours at Destrehan Plantation, Louisiana, this article engages, conceptually and empirically, with the concept of affective inequality — how it contributes to the marginalization of the history of the enslaved community, and how it becomes reproduced within the practices of tour guides at plantation house museums in the Southern US.
Tourist Studies
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/1468797611412007
2011 11: 3Tourist Studies
E. Arnold Modlin, Jr, Derek H. Alderman and Glenn W. Gentry
Marginalizing the Enslaved at Plantation House Museums
Tour Guides as Creators of Empathy: The Role of Affective Inequality in
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Corresponding author:
E. Arnold Modlin Jr, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, 227 Howe-
Russell Geoscience Complex, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
Tourist Studies
11(1) 3–19
© The Author(s) 2011
Reprints and permission: sagepub.
DOI: 10.1177/1468797611412007
Tour Guides as Creators
of Empathy: The Role of
Affective Inequality in
Marginalizing the Enslaved
at Plantation House Museums
E. Arnold Modlin Jr
Louisiana State University, USA
Derek H. Alderman
East Carolina University, USA
Glenn W. Gentry
State University of New York – Cortland, USA
Criticized for ignoring or misrepresenting slavery, some docents at plantation house museums
have responded by including more references to slavery, but rarely move beyond mere factual
references of the enslaved. This contrasts with the emotionally evocative accounts tourists hear
about the planter-class family. We refer to this disparity as affective inequality. At plantation house
museums, affective inequality is created and reproduced through specific spatial and narrative
practices by tour guides. By retracing docent-led tours at Destrehan Plantation, Louisiana, this
article engages, conceptually and empirically, with the concept of affective inequality – how it
contributes to the marginalization of the history of the enslaved community, and how it becomes
reproduced within the practices of tour guides at plantation house museums in the Southern US.
affect; Destrehan Plantation; docent; historic house; inequality; memory; museum; plantation
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4 Tourist Studies 11(1)
Historic house museums play an important role in the heritage tourism experience (West,
1999). While visiting these museums, tourists hear about events and people of the past,
and are actively encouraged to place themselves there historically – to identify with and
form emotional bonds with individuals from the past. While many history museums
appear to consider the past in objective ways, a tour through any historical site is a selec-
tive, political process which makes certain people, places, and perspectives appear legiti-
mate while rendering others invisible (Buzinde, 2007; Eichstedt and Small, 2002). Tour
guides or docents are extraordinarily important to the politics of retelling the past in
selective and emotionally evocative ways.
Traditional studies tend to view tour guides in monolithic and categorical terms,
emphasizing the extent to which they serve as mere ‘mediators’ of the tourist experience.
More recent studies focus on the agency and cultural politics of tour guides, how they
participate in the social construction of destinations, and actively shape the meanings
that tourists read and interpret from historic sites (Dahles, 2002; MacDonald, 2006). In
developing this theme further, we focus on how guides operate as ‘creators’ of historical
empathy. The concept of historical empathy recognizes that a full understanding of the
past requires people to adopt, cognitively, a perspective different from their own and to
establish an emotional connection with historical actors from different eras and walks of
life. In the words of Barton and Levstik (2004: 207–8), historical empathy ‘invites us to
care with and about people in the past, to be concerned with what happened to them and
how they experienced their lives’.
Plantation house museums in the Southern US are places where the political and emo-
tional stakes of tour guiding are particularly high, especially in terms of the depiction of
the history of slavery. A growing number of scholars have addressed the controversies
that surround the portrayal of the enslaved at historic sites and museums (Alderman,
2010; Butler, 2001; Buzinde, 2007; Buzinde and Santos, 2008, 2009; Handler and Gable,
1997; Hanna, 2008; Modlin, 2008). Tourism plantations across the South often ignore or
marginalize the story of slavery while valorizing the accomplishments and possessions
of the planter class, thus carrying out a ‘symbolic annihilation’ of the history and identity
of enslaved Africans and African-Americans (Eichstedt and Small, 2002: 105). While
this annihilation is carried out through many channels, tour guides play an especially
influential role. Traditionally, tours at most plantation house museums present vivid,
detailed accounts of the lives of members of planter families while reducing enslaved
people – whose presence made the master/planter’s lifestyle possible – to stock charac-
ters who receive less attention than the furniture and china owned by the master. These
representational inequalities, ‘not only annihilate the histories of marginalized groups
from the official heritage narrative but also foster feelings of disinheritance and exasper-
ate historical and contemporary issues of racism’ (Buzinde and Santos, 2008: 484).
The disinheritance of Africans and African-Americans from Southern plantation his-
tory has not gone unchallenged, however. Not all tourists acquiesce to this traditionally
dominant reading of the plantation. Some tourists fall into what Buzinde and Santos
(2009) call an ‘oppositional interpretive community’ that views the plantation much
more in terms of racial politics. Some African-Americans actively seek to reclaim their
plantation heritage (Redford, 1988), producing counter-narratives that bring the slave
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Modlin Jr et al. 5
struggle front and center within the re-telling of the Old South (Hoelscher, 2003). Some
site managers and docents have responded by incorporating slavery into their representa-
tions of the past (Butler et al., 2008; Litvin and Brewer, 2008). Academicians have con-
tributed their research to document and challenge the marginalization of the enslaved at
historic sites (for example, Loewen, 2000). It is out of this intellectual and political con-
text that we write this paper.
Previous analyses of the representation of slavery in plantation tourism tended to
document the number of times that the enslaved are mentioned (or not) on docent-led
tours and marketing materials (Alderman and Modlin, 2008; Butler, 2001; Eichstedt and
Small, 2002; Modlin, 2008). Our many onsite observations of plantation house museum
tours over 5 years convince us that increasing the number of references to slave life on
tours is an important first step in developing a more socially responsible discourse at
plantation sites. However, we have also observed that even some of the most conscien-
tious docents fail to move the dialogue beyond making factual descriptions of enslave-
ment or simply referencing the aggregate number of slaves owned by a particular planter/
master, thus perpetuating an ‘inventory discourse’ that continues to view the enslaved as
mere property rather than human beings. These factual mentions of slavery certainly
represent an improvement over traditional representations of plantation life, but do not
necessarily help tourists empathize or identify with the enslaved community.
The lack of historical empathy created for the enslaved lies in contrast to the way in
which many guides work to make the lives of the planter family come alive for tourists,
offering dramatic accounts of the family’s losses, pains, power, and wealth. At some
sites, docents might ask tourists to imagine briefly some aspect of slavery, but such emo-
tive adventures are often little more than short detours from what remains a ‘white-
centric’ representation of the plantation (Eichstedt and Small, 2002: 4). The uneven way
in which tourists are encouraged to invest emotionally in the planter versus the enslaved
is what we call affective inequality. As creators of historical empathy, tour guides play a
major role in not only reaffirming but also potentially challenging this affective inequal-
ity. Indeed, we have found instances of some guides creating highly emotional moments
for tourists to learn about enslavement (Alderman and Campbell, 2008). Bringing about
broader change requires understanding, more fully, the role that empathetic engagement
between guide and tourists plays in shaping representations of slavery at plantation
house museums.
In this paper, we define tours of plantation house museums as emotive journeys and
focus on the empathy-producing capacity of tour guides. Our purpose is to engage the
concept of affective inequality, how it contributes to the marginalization of the history of
the enslaved, and how it becomes reproduced within the practices of docents at Southern
plantation house museums. In exploring the representational practices of tour guides, it
is important to pay attention not only to how they tell emotionally evocative stories about
certain people from the past, but also how they arrange or configure these historical nar-
ratives within the historical spaces of the plantation. The practice of retelling the past
happens in and through places and landscapes, and space represents an important medium
for storytelling rather than simply a backdrop for history (Azaryahu and Foote, 2008). As
we illustrate through a retracing of docent-led tours at Destrehan Plantation in Louisiana,
guides create affective spatial–historical storylines by anchoring certain narrative themes
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6 Tourist Studies 11(1)
in particular spaces and through the sequential ordering of spaces and stories within the
tour. First, we present a background discussion of the political agency of tour guides and
the role of emotion and affect at historical museum sites.
Creating empathy, creating inequality: The politics of
tour guiding
Much research has been written on the function and role of tour guides. Some of this
research addresses tour guide practices in terms of competence, quality assurance, train-
ing, and the optimization of service and product delivery (Black and Weiler, 2005;
Curtin, 2010; Huang and Wang, 2007; Mason and Christie, 2003). While these aspects
are important, our interest in this paper is on the larger social and cultural dimensions of
the docent–tourist relationship and how bodily and verbal performances of guides work
to ‘sacralize’ or transform an unassuming site of history into a socially important histori-
cal sight (Fine and Speer, 1985).
Ap and Wong (2001: 551) describe tour guides as the ‘essential interface’ between
tourists and destinations. Dahles (2002: 783) agrees, saying ‘tour guiding constitutes a
strategic factor in the representation of a destination area’. Tourists certainly can form
their own independent impressions of destinations (Banyai, 2010), but guides exert great
influence on tourist interpretation and experience of place (Baum et al., 2007). Tour
guides act as ‘gatekeepers of the destination, not only to provide interesting information
and an enjoyable experience but also a physical and cultural familiarity with destina-
tions. They can recommend to tourists what to see, control what is supposed to be seen,
and what the destination does not want them to see’ (Nelson, 2003: 114). To categorize
the role of guides in tourism, Cohen (1985) establishes a tour-guide typology of path-
finders and mentors. The pathfinder guide ‘provides privileged access to an otherwise
non-public territory’ and the mentor guide is more active in the ‘mediation’ and ‘cultural
brokerage’ of the tourism experience (Cohen, 1985: 10).
Ap and Wong (2001: 557) find this split between pathfinding and mentoring lacking.
To them, tour guiding is ‘more complex than the usually accepted and straightforward
roles of being “information giver”, “environmental interpreter”, or “cultural broker”, as
described by the literature’. The pathfinder–mentor dichotomy is also questionable in
light of the post-modern tourist experience, in which tour guides are expected ‘to bring
something extra, something that the visitors cannot get through any other media’
(McGrath, 2003: 16). With this typological rethinking, research is expanding to look at
additional roles fulfilled by tour guides. Cohen et al. (2002) explore the tour guide as an
ethical and moral leader, or Madrich, in religious pilgrimages. Reed (2002) emphasizes
the importance of storytelling as an essential skill for tour guides, for they are able to
present the ‘personality’ of both place and subject through the use of narratives. Salazar
(2005: 642) focuses on guides as agents of ‘glocalization’ and ‘the way they (re)present
and actively (re)construct local culture for a diversified global audience’.
Dahles (2002) argues that the traditional conceptualization of tour guides as cultural
mediators does not capture the extent to which they function as political actors. By
examining government control of place images presented by tour guides in Indonesia,
where ‘decisions regarding the “true” story or the “most appropriate” interpretation are
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Modlin Jr et al. 7
subject to relations of power and dependence’, she highlights how guides work to main-
tain cultural images supported by an authoritarian state and hence assist in the national-
istic scripting of place and history (Dahles, 2002: 797). While Dahles’ work is important
in pushing us to realize the larger politics of tour guiding, it emphasizes only the stan-
dardization and governmental control of guides as they engage in historical representa-
tion, and therefore fails to fully acknowledge their agency. In fact, training and
certification do not ensure consistency, especially when the tour narrative falls outside of
the certification process as it often does at plantation house museums. As Hanna et al.
(2004) indicate, docents improvise as they recite a previously established tourist narra-
tive, drawing from their own background and experiences. In these instances, guides
function as ‘creative storytellers’ who sometimes question and challenge popular dis-
courses about people, places, and the past (Salazar, 2006: 833). As Salazar (2006: 848)
observes, tour guide narratives ‘are not closed or rigid systems, but rather open systems
that are always put at risk by what happens in actual encounters [with tourists]’.
MacDonald (2006) does not support abandoning the ‘mediator’ metaphor, but recog-
nizes how the encoding of meaning through tour guiding is a negotiated and contested
process. According to her, tour guides do exercise agency, ‘positioning’ themselves in
relation to the official narrative, the organization or industry for which they work, and the
wider social and political context of tourism. This agency includes both how they deal
with the ‘social dynamics of the tour group’ and also the ‘materiality of the [tourism]
site’, controlling the ‘place and space of the tour itself’ and actively managing the mean-
ings that tourists read and interpret from sites (MacDonald, 2006: 119–24). Hanna et al.
(2004: 476) argue that tour guides are crucial in constructing historical narratives and
directing ‘the tourists’ collective gaze at particular buildings and memorials’. We would
add that guides are also important in directing the collective gaze of tourists toward par-
ticular people from the past, thus shaping who – and not just what – is commemorated.
Docents are active participants in a ‘reputational politics’ in which the meaning and
legacy of historical figures – rather than being fixed historical facts – are open to social
control (Alderman, 2002).
Bruner (2005) contends that tour guides are influential stakeholders in struggles to
define and ‘enact’ the historical and cultural meaning of people and places, even to the
point that they may subvert the assertions of professional historians and compete with
other stakeholders over historical narration. Handler and Gable (1997) consider the
struggles of guides to incorporate the history of African-Americans into tours of colonial
Williamsburg. They saw a tension between African-American docents and white docents,
who, unlike their black counterparts, tend to avoid talking about the topic of miscegena-
tion and the sexual exploitation of slaves by masters. This reluctance to discuss occurred
even though there is no dispute among historians that such sexual relations happened
among planter and slave and the public appeared to yearn to hear about these relations,
according to Handler and Gable.
Remembering the past can be a highly politicized and racialized process (Hoelscher,
2003; Regis, 2001) in which docents are active participants. Through the representa-
tional and performative activities of guides, museums, and other heritage tourism sites
work to remind the public that certain pasts should be remembered and by extension,
that certain pasts should be forgotten. Underlying the tensions between docents in
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8 Tourist Studies 11(1)
Williamsburg was a conflict over facts, with white guides arguing that there is not
enough archival documentation to discuss sensitive topics, such as miscegenation
(Handler and Gable, 1997). This echoes what we heard at many plantations when
docents tell us that they would be willing to include more information about slavery, if
they only knew more about the lives of the enslaved. However, we also observed during
field research that a lack of documentation does not keep guides on tour from engaging
in historical conjecture about details of the planter-class family.
It is misguided to think of museums as simply sites designed to disseminate informa-
tion and tour guiding as merely a recitation of facts. Katriel (1993: 70) characterizes
heritage museums as ‘arenas for ideological assertion’. As performers of these ideolo-
gies, tour guides make claims to narrative and cultural authority over the past and its
interpretation. Museums assert certain ways of thinking and knowing the past and rein-
force particular community identities through ordering knowledge in ways that natural-
ize particular worldviews. Focusing merely on the presentation of knowledge by the
museum misses how it naturalizes these worldviews (Anderson and Smith, 2001). While
docents certainly bring legitimacy to certain interpretations of history by choosing to
narrate certain things and not others, they also exercise agency through the manner and
style in which they talk about, perform, and represent the past. As Iles (2008) suggests,
tourists, particularly those who visit places with highly charged memories of suffering,
want more than to sightsee. They desire ‘to identify and empathize’ and it is the job of
tour guides to ‘capture their clients’ emotional engagement with the area’ in addition to
providing them with ‘comprehensive accounts of the history’ (Iles, 2008: 151).
Remembering the past at historic museums is often an emotive, even affective, process
because museums are spaces of emotion as well as information (Tyson, 2008). Docents
shape people’s moods and feelings about the past, directing tourists in deciding what and
who from the past should receive emotional investment, which directly shapes how tour-
ists think about and value certain historical events, people, and places. Issues of emotion
are most obvious when museums and their guides engage with controversial subjects.
What concerns us are not only emotions at the historic site, but also the actions called
for, and resulting from, the emotional journey through the site. Associated with emotion,
we follow the understanding of ‘affect’ proposed by geographer Nigel Thrift (2004: 60),
who maintains that affect is more than emotion, without being separated from emotion,
that is, ‘emotion in motion both literally and figuratively’. Affect could be considered as
emotion packaged with action – actuated, and potential. We do not attempt to cleave
emotion apart from its resulting action, as such a division can unnecessarily distance a
call for an emotive reaction and the expression of that reaction, and thus potentially
opening up a space for an oversimplification of the emotion-laden responses a person
might have (Thrift, 2004). For example, a sad story told by a docent might immediately
elicit tears, but changing the listener’s mood for the day is also an affective response, as
is changing – or possibly changing – the way the audience feels about the person of
whom the tale is expressed.
In thinking about the power of stories told on tours to elicit feelings and affect, it is
worth considering how the agency of tour guides lies in their ability to create historical
empathy among tourists. While historical empathy is a concept identified with the peda-
gogical literature, the application to tourism appears appropriate given the stated
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Modlin Jr et al. 9
educational mission of museums and other historic sites. A lively debate exists among
history educators about the exact definition and nature of historical empathy (Brooks,
2009). The term is defined, on one hand, in terms of people developing an historical
understanding by taking on the perspectives of people from the past through a close
non-emotional, non-sympathetic engagement with historical evidence (for example,
Foster, 1999). The emphasis here is on empathy merely as a cognitive act. On the other
hand, other scholars argue for a conception of historical empathy that also includes an
affective component, not mutually exclusive from the cognitive reconstruction of his-
torical perspectives and experiences (Barton and Levstik, 2004; Endacott, 2010).
The development of historical empathy by docents can be done unevenly and poten-
tially unfairly, hence our use of the word ‘affective inequality’. Our interest in unevenly
developed historical empathy focuses on the representational environment that tour guides
create and how this environment, beyond what it may say about the past on a factual level,
favors the affective portrayal of certain individuals and communities from the past over
others. Guides at Southern plantation house museums tend to celebrate the planter lifestyle
in emotionally evocative ways that aggrandize the reputation of the master over other peo-
ple and themes. The presence of such affective inequality has the dangerous potential to
reaffirm the marginality of the enslaved – reducing them to a lifeless historical fact of the
plantation if they are mentioned at all. To challenge this affective inequality in the repre-
sentation of the enslaved requires understanding how such inequality is constructed and
normalized within and through the geography of specific plantation sites. Space constitutes
and shapes the meaning and politics of public memory (Dwyer and Alderman, 2008).
There is growing recognition of the emotional intersections between people and places,
both within and outside the study of tourism (Davidson et al., 2005). The rest of this article
presents a case study that advances our understanding of how tour guides use the stories
and spaces of the plantation to emotionally engage the tourist in socially uneven ways.
A tour through Destrehan: Ordering space to compel
historic empathy
Destrehan Plantation is a former indigo and sugar plantation 25 miles west of New
Orleans, Louisiana, in St Charles Parish along the Mississippi River Road (Highway 48),
a scenic route with several prominent 18th and 19th century antebellum plantations that
host visitors. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Destrehan Plantation
was established in 1787 and once covered 6000 acres. Private ownership of Destrehan
ended in 1910 when it was bought by a series of industrial owners. In 1971, the River
Road Historical Society, a not-for-profit organization, received the main plantation house
as a donation (Cizek et al., 2008). At the time of writing this article, Destrehan was acces-
sible to tourists daily for US$15 per adult visitor.
Based on our fieldwork at more than 100 plantations across the South, Destrehan
arguably presents more information about slavery than other plantation house museums
(Modlin, 2008). Indeed, site managers recently collaborated with the New Orleans
African American Museum and Tulane University to commemorate the 1811 River Road
Slave Revolt. Although Destrehan’s docents mention the enslaved more than guides at
many museums we have toured, the primary focus remains the planter-class family who
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10 Tourist Studies 11(1)
owned the site, the affective dimensions of their lives, and their connection to local,
regional, and national history. Enslaved persons, while certainly a subject on the tour,
tend to be dealt with through a mere recounting of facts.
For two years starting in 2008, we toured Destrehan Plantation on 12 different occa-
sions, accompanying tour groups that averaged six to ten people, although one group did
number as many as 30 tourists. The tour groups we accompanied were overwhelmingly
comprised of white tourists with women only slightly outnumbering men. Most tourists
arrived with others, usually family members. Each tour was approximately 50 minutes
long and our observations are a selective summary of tours led by seven different
docents – approximately half of the 15 guides who worked there over the study period.
Docents did not appear to utilize a standard script, but they do receive ongoing training
and some supplement tours with their own independent research. Guides presented tour
narratives in their own words while maintaining a continuity of key points and themes
across all tours, which suggest that there is an interpretive and performative fluidity in
tours that could be used to portray the enslaved in more emotionally evocative terms.
Yet, we did not find significant evidence of this at Destrehan.
On each tour, we conducted a non-intrusive form of participant observation in which
we allowed our emotive gaze to be directed by the docent. Similar to Eichstedt and Small
(2002), we did not ask questions about the enslaved, but sought to experience the tour as
it would normally be presented. In terms of understanding how guides at Destrehan repro-
duce affective inequality and identification with the planter over the enslaved, it is impor-
tant to understand that docents engage in evocative story telling. But stories alone do not
necessarily create historical empathy among tourists. Tour guides ground their stories in
the emotive meaning of certain rooms and certain artifacts found in those rooms. This
material culture reminds visitors of the veracity of the docent’s claims, thus becoming a
tool in the politics of historical interpretation (Alderman and Campbell, 2008).
The rooms within which Destrehan’s docents tell their stories are more than simply
background settings. Rooms, furnishings, and artifacts, by virtue of how they are repre-
sented, become characters in the story and serve important ideological functions on the
tour. Within some of these interpretive spaces tourists hear why the site and its past
planter-class resident(s) are still important. In other spaces, visitors, particularly white,
middle-class tourists, receive cues that they have things in common with the planter and
his family. Some spaces within the plantation house, such as bedrooms, become espe-
cially poignant as docents provide tales of loneliness, uncertainty, and joy felt over court-
ing or childbirth, and experiences of loss through the death of loved ones, particularly
spouses and children. These stops on the tour arguably compel tourists to empathize with
the planter-class family by drawing upon their own feelings, fears, and experiences.
In understanding more fully the affective practices of docents at Destrehan, it is
important to recognize that tour stop locations and spatial order shape the interpretive
and empathetic arc of docent narratives. A spatial narrative develops in which each
storied room and artifact builds upon previous ones, building up to a crescendo of
empathy for the planter family and then refocusing the attention of tourists back to
larger themes beyond the house before ending the tour. In light of the importance of
these spatial narratives, we feel it is important to reconstruct the historical and spatial
chronology of the tour itself.
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Modlin Jr et al. 11
Destrehan Plantation’s docent-led tours start with a seven-minute video on the history
of the plantation and the people who lived there. This video focuses on the planter-class
family who lived in the ‘Big House’. After the video, a docent leads the tour group to the
house and through it in a series of 18 interpretative stops.
The first three stops on the tour of Destrehan Plantation are exterior stops, which we
categorize as ‘public’ because of the visibility or accessibility of these places to antebel-
lum visitors of the plantation. At the first stop, guides feature the live oaks at the site,
including one named after Azby, the grandson of Jean Noel Destrehan, the featured
owner/master of the plantation. The second stop, by the rear corner of the main house, is
in front of two single-story, two-room slave cabins, relocated to the site from another
plantation. The tour does not include the cabin interiors, although docents encourage
tourists to return and examine the cabins after the tour. We view the slave cabins as a
sorely missed opportunity for docents to help tourists to empathize and connect with the
lives of the enslaved.
A room in one cabin is an interpretive room reflecting what the interior of a slave
cabin might have looked like. The other room in the same cabin displays an artist’s rendi-
tion of the 1811 River Road Slave Revolt. While in front of the cabins, guides discuss
Destrehan’s plantation store, where slaves purchased their clothing and other items, ‘at
little or no profit to Mr. Destrehan, because of his generosity’. At the third stop, the oppo-
site rear corner of the house, docents point out the washhouse and the re-created kitchen.
Docents inform tourists that antebellum kitchens were located away from the main house
because of extreme heat, smells, and the frequency of kitchen fires, which risked burning
down the house. Although slave labor operated the kitchen, the risk of cooking is largely
represented in relation to the planter family.
Next are the first of three rooms at Destrehan, which we define as ‘verifying’ spaces.
These spaces build symbolic capital for docents by verifying the importance of stories
shared about the property and the planter-class family through the presentation of unique,
even extraordinary, artifacts. In the fourth stop, called the Jefferson Room, tourists see
copies of treaties, portraits, and maps on the walls, which together with the tour guides’
dialogue, connect Jean Noel Destrehan to Louisianan, US, and international history. The
focal point of the room is the 1804 Jefferson Document with its signatures of President
Jefferson and then-Secretary of State James Madison. The Jefferson document occupies
a special, protective case. The document announced the appointment of Destrehan and
three other prominent Louisianan men to handle matters related to the transition of
Louisiana into the US.
The next three stops are in ‘semi-private’ spaces – where certain people were allowed
access under particular circumstances. For antebellum visitors, a degree of intimacy with
the family was implied by access into these spaces. Occasional connections between the
family and larger historical themes are made in these spaces, but they actually serve as
places to shift emotive attention toward planter-class individuals who lived in the house
and to help tourists identify with these figures. Docents discuss architecture and posses-
sions, particularly the furniture, making the material culture of the house the focus of
these spaces. The fifth stop, the warming kitchen, located on the bottom floor of the
upriver garçonnière, was used for preparing food that did not need to be cooked. Docents
contrast it with the main kitchen in the back yard.
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12 Tourist Studies 11(1)
Stop six is the pantry inside the main house. Here tourists see a mannequin representing
an enslaved Creole named Marguarite. Each tour guide explains that Creole meant ‘born in
the New World from parents who were born in Europe or Africa’. Two of the docents who
led our tours suggest that Marguarite’s husband was sold, thus separating the couple. A few
guides say that some of her children lived through the Civil War and received their free-
dom. After this brief connection to larger themes of Creolization and slavery, docents shift
quickly to talking about a plate warmer and a tea safe in the room, thus missing another
opportunity for tourists to learn more about the enslaved and invest emotionally. The plate
warmer was used to warm up plates with food from the exterior kitchen before being
served in the dining room. This item is often compared with a microwave. Dried blocks of
tea – a luxury in the colonial and antebellum periods – are used to discuss how the packag-
ing of tea has changed compared with what is found in tourists’ kitchens. Docents use
items like these to encourage tourists to make connections or comparisons with the planter-
class family who owned these items. Through this discussion, tourists are told that the
planter class is similar to them – at least in some ways. Sadly, the story of Marguarite never
really moves her representation beyond that of a mannequin. She has a place in the planta-
tion, but not in the same animated and humanized ways as the Destrehan family.
The seventh stop, the storage room, is not made by all tour guides. Docents who stop
here explain the architectural features of the room, which kept goods cool three of the
guides who directed our tours reflected upon slavery in Southern Louisiana, stressing
factors that made it unique compared with other parts of the US, particularly during the
early 19th century. Having this moment to reflect on slavery is important, but is more of
an intellectual reflection on the institution of slavery rather than an emotive reflection on
slave life at Destrehan.
Stops eight and nine – the dining room and the formal entry – are public spaces
because docents interpret these spaces as where formal guests were welcomed. In the
dining room, tour guides tell tourists that the main meal of the day for the planter-class
family started about 2 pm and often lasted for two hours. Visitors handling business at
Destrehan were invited to eat at the table. Multiple tablecloths were used, which indi-
cated the wealth of the owner and how many courses were being served. The final course,
dessert, was eaten on the uncovered table to indicate the meal’s conclusion. Children
were fed separately in the pantry. Women and teenage girls could not leave the table until
the entire meal ended, though men could get up between courses. At the ninth stop, tour-
ists learn about the renovation of the house in the 1830s, which enclosed the back porch,
added two lavish interior staircases, and inadvertently disrupted the flow of air through
the main (second) floor of the house. In both of these spaces, tourists received explicit
direction to imagine themselves as antebellum visitors to Destrehan. Most docents use
second-person reference, saying such things as, ‘if you visited, this would be the door
you would come in’, while pointing to the door at the ninth stop. The irony of this
empathy-producing exercise is that African-American visitors would not have entered
the house at this location in the 1800s and docents never ask tour groups to imagine their
place in the house if they had been enslaved.
The second verifying space, the tenth stop, is an upstairs room with unfinished walls
so tourists see what the house looks like under the plaster. Docents note indentions
from the thumbs of enslaved workers who put mud filling between the posts in the
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Modlin Jr et al. 13
walls – called bousillage-entre-poteaux. A clear plastic-covered opening in the ceiling
reveals carpentry details in the attic. There is an acknowledgment of enslaved labor, but
not the kind of engaged discussion that would help tourists identify with that labor in
affective ways. Rather, this room is used to reaffirm to tourists that those who historically
lived in Louisiana were uniquely American – applying American ingenuity in a uniquely
Louisianan way, the emphasis being on the architect rather than the laborer. Thus, it
reinforces the remarks of the docents about the uniqueness of the Creole Destrehans, as
well as the uniqueness of the expression of institutions, including slavery, at Destrehan
Plantation. Off this room is a cabinet room, interpreted as a temporary office for the
Freedman’s Bureau, of which little is usually said. This represents a lost opportunity to
connect visitors, in an affective way, to what freedom would have meant to the enslaved.
The women’s parlor, the eleventh stop, is a semi-private space. Docents used semi-
private rooms nearest the bedrooms to mention details about the family, using these
spaces to transition toward private areas of the house. In this parlor, tourists see Eliza
Destrehan’s portrait on the wall. She outlived three husbands. Some guides note that in
the portrait, Eliza wears three wedding bands to reflect her love for each of her deceased
husbands. In this room, tourists are also shown a ‘courting’ candlestick holder with an
unlit candle. Tour guides inform the group that the father decided whom the daughter
married. When men called to visit the daughter, the father lit the candle and adjusted the
height of the candle in the holder to indicate how long a suitor could stay. The suitor was
expected to leave once the candle reached the top of the candleholder’s metal wire.
Docents explain that the more candle above the wire when the candle was lit, the more
favored the suitor was to the young woman’s father.
The room of the twelfth stop is the first room on the tour that we categorize as private
space. Viewing the bedroom as a private, intimate, often gendered, space emerged among
the middle class, out of Victorian sensibilities (Gan, 2009). In these spaces, guests hear
tales of childbirth, sickness, loneliness, and death as well as allusions to conjugal activ-
ity. In private spaces, docents encourage intimacy with the planter-class family. Docents
rarely say anything about the enslaved in these spaces even though it is likely that slaves
were in and out of these rooms serving the planter family. Stop twelve is the bedroom of
Lydia Rost, daughter of Louise and Pierre Rost and granddaughter of Jean Noel
Destrehan. A portrait of 14-year-old Lydia is on the wall above the fireplace while her
bed with a canopy and a mosquito net is in one corner. After discussing the bed, docents
inform tourists that Lydia died three years after the painting was completed, which usu-
ally evokes an emotional response from visitors. In 1853, Lydia and thousands of others
died in the worst yellow fever outbreak to hit the area. Docents tell tourists that after
Lydia’s death, the father would not allow the priest to return to attend to her younger
brother, Henri’s spiritual needs. Evidently, the parents worried that seeing the priest
would scare Henri as he was ill with yellow fever too. Henri died two weeks after his
sister. After allowing some somber moments, docents turn their attention to a 1200-
pound marble tub in a second cabinet off of Lydia’s room, illustrating how artifacts are
used to relieve as well as build up emotional drama on the tour.
Stop thirteen is interpreted as the planter’s wife’s bedroom. This room together with
Lydia’s bedroom served as the area for young children to sleep near their mother.
According to docents, the planter (who slept in the room that is the fifteenth stop) made
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14 Tourist Studies 11(1)
appointments to visit his wife’s room for conjugal purposes. Guides mention that the bed
in the wife’s room was constructed by a local, free African-American furniture maker.
However, docent narratives quickly turn to involved explanations of how making the bed
was done first thing in the morning because women were viewed as lazy if they returned
to the bed later in the day, unless they were very sick.
The fourteenth stop is the men’s parlor, a semi-private space. This room is also a site
where docents mention black workmanship but in a rather limited, factual way. Guides
point to a desk built by a slave at Destrehan. Yet, most of the docent’s empathy-producing
narrative revolves around the social function of parlors. After formal dinners, men and
women moved to their respective parlors – spaces divided by pocket doors that, once
retracted, turn the two rooms into one. Once opened, this larger room is, at least theoreti-
cally, open to both men and women, though the only example given of this occurring are
the aforementioned visits by prospective sons-in-law who visited the daughter in the
women’s parlor, while under the watchful eyes of the father sitting in the men’s parlor.
What visitor cannot relate to the struggles of courting and prying eyes of parents? Thus
the parlor narrative becomes an empathy-producing moment on the tour.
Stop fifteen is in the planter’s bedroom, a private space. In this room, docents share the
story of Azby Destrehan. His father, Nicholas, was afraid Azby would contract yellow
fever in Louisiana and die so he sent Azby to school out of state, forbidding him from
returning to Louisiana until he was 21 years old. Ironically, Azby died from smallpox in
Europe while his wife was pregnant with their only child, a daughter. The interpretative
value of this room and other private spaces cannot be underplayed in terms of creating a
powerfully evocative image of the planter and his family. The degree to which docents
cover so many intimate details about the living spaces of the master/planter class stands
in stark contrast to the lack of attention that life in slave cabins received earlier in the tour.
The final three stops are public spaces, visible to antebellum visitors. These stops, all
on the upper porch, are outside the planter’s bedroom (sixteen), downriver garçonnière
(seventeen) and overlooking the backyard (eighteen). Docents use these exterior areas, in
their spatial narrative, to move the visitor away from the detailed, compelling personal
histories of the planter family and discuss the larger context of Destrehan, acknowledging
the many buildings no longer present on the plantation, the importance of the Mississippi
River as an antebellum transportation route, and reminding visitors of the demonstrations
going on that day behind the main house. A rotating set of free demonstrations, including
hearth cooking, African medicinal plants, and bousillage-entre-poteaux, are held six days
a week. These demonstrations could help tourists identify with enslaved life and labor,
but participation in them is up to the visitors after the tour and not docent-initiated. In
effect, these demonstrations – like the slave cabins – are not part of the spatial narratives
created by guides, which works to reproduce an affective inequality at Destrehan while
also tending to segregate the discussion of slavery from the main house.
Many plantation house museums fail to acknowledge that historically, the Southern plan-
tation was an economic enterprise with the control and exploitation of slave labor at its
heart. Nevertheless, a growing number of plantation house museums, including Destrehan
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Modlin Jr et al. 15
Plantation, recognize their responsibility to discuss slavery. Our discussions with docents
at Destrehan indicate that some have done research about slavery beyond their initial
training and they genuinely wish to give accurate, factual information on their tours. In
doing so, these guides take an important step toward coming to terms with and publicly
remembering the enslaved.
However, tours through plantation house museums are more than mere factual adven-
tures; these journeys are emotional, indeed, affective. The process of remembering
means coming to terms with more than facts. Inequality can exist on tours even at sites
that are committed to more fully addressing the historical facts of slavery. This inequality
is not just about whether docents talk about the planter-class more than the enslaved, but
also the unevenness in how tourists are encouraged to connect with these historical
groups emotionally. The stakes of this inequality are high. Tourists are encouraged by
docents to empathize with the planter-class family who lived in the ‘Big House’, which
communicates clear ideas about whose lives really mattered at plantations. Planter-class
family members made up only a small part of the population that lived on the plantation.
While their lives might have been difficult, the focus placed on the extreme moments of
their lives further marginalizes the everyday lived moments of enslaved individuals. In
the end, the constant, poignant struggles of the enslaved are lost. Forgotten is the tremen-
dous daily burden of living under a violent system, weighted down with thoughts that
subjection to this coercive system was an inheritance parents passed to their children.
Stories such as Louise and Pierre Rost’s loss of their children to yellow fever are pre-
sented absent of stories of the same loss that some enslaved parents at the same planta-
tion might have experienced – and we can be assured that many enslaved children were
among the thousands of Louisianans who died from yellow fever in the 19th century.
Forgotten too are the thousands of ‘social deaths’ of slavery (Patterson, 1982). The exer-
cise of power by slaveholders over enslaved individuals, such as selling someone and
forcing them to live elsewhere, effectively killed – socially – the enslaved. Just the pos-
sibility of such a separation made each potentially joyful birth of an enslaved baby an
ambivalent moment for the parents. Despite the very real dangers ever-present for any
newborn, this potentiality had no equal among planter-class families.
Moving beyond a focus on mere fact when we consider slavery opens up new possi-
bilities for these museums. In concluding their article, Buzinde and Santos (2009: 456)
mention that researchers of plantation house museums should consider how these sites
can potentially present ‘healing and holistic messages’. This requires representing the
plantation house as more than just a site of ownership, which tends to be white-centric.
The plantation was also a lived space from which the enslaved drew identity and life
even if they did not own it. Such a perspective necessitates a fuller, more empathetic
presentation of the stories and spaces associated with the slave community. The impor-
tance of space cannot be overlooked since the narrative meanings attached to places and
the order in which they are toured shape the tourist experience and the ability to create
affective connections with people from the past.
As we consider how to combat the affective inequality taking place at Southern plan-
tation house museums, future work might focus on historic sites with tour guides that
have been successful in helping tourists identify and empathize with the enslaved.
Studying the representational strategies and spatial–historical narratives that these guides
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16 Tourist Studies 11(1)
employ could be instructive for site mangers and docents at other plantations. A notewor-
thy example of such a guide is Kitty Wilson-Evans, a former slave interpreter and story-
teller at Historic Brattonsville in McConnells, South Carolina. She retired in 2010 after
16 years of service, much of it as a volunteer. Wilson-Evans was widely acknowledged
for her powerful portrayals of the struggles and contributions of the enslaved through her
re-enactment of an 18th century slave named Kessie, to the point of bringing some visi-
tors to tears (Bates, 2005). Creating such highly charged emotions is not simply about
creating better entertainment for tourists, but taking them to an affective place where the
struggles of the enslaved can be more fully realized and understood. As Ira Berlin (2004)
argues, remembering slavery in emotive ways is necessary to achieving social justice not
only for African-Americans in the past, but also in the present.
The performative activities at Brattonsville also prompt us to consider another aspect
of the affective impact of plantation tours – the issue of gender. Finding women docents
leading plantation tours is rather common, although finding an African-American
female docent such as Wilson-Evans is unusual, which undoubtedly contributes to the
emotive gravity she is able to bring the story of the enslaved. As Taft (2010) finds, the
representation of race and gender at plantation museums can take on complex forms
that give voice to certain men while marginalizing women in addition to African-
Americans. We have no doubt that gender is an important variable in shaping how
docents present information about the plantation and the tactics they use to create affec-
tive empathy. Of the seven docents who guided our tours of Destrehan, all were white,
and all were female except one. We saw clear evidence of a gendering of certain rooms
of the plantation in terms of what stories and artifacts docents used to help visitors
identify with the planter family. The identity of tourists is perhaps also a key factor in
shaping the historic portrayals communicated to them by guides. As Eichstedt and
Small (2002: 20) observe in their major study of Southern plantation house museums,
docents generally assumed that white female visitors would be ‘interested in decorative
arts produced by white women’, while white male visitors would be ‘interested in the
maps and firearms’ used by the planter/master. The gendered and racialized assump-
tions, which perhaps reflect the proclivities of the guide as much as they do the visitor,
represent a significant barrier to telling a more emotionally compelling story of the
enslaved. In reality, some white tourists have shown interest ‘in the slave experience as
compared to hearing about other, more established plantation narratives’ (Butler et al.,
2008: 296). Nevertheless, future work on the affective dimensions of Southern planta-
tion house museum tours needs to take on the task of measuring visitor responses and
emotive bonds, thus providing more specific empirical evidence about the degree and
nature of historical empathy created by docents.
We wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers of this paper for their helpful comments and sug-
gestions, and the employees of Destrehan Plantation for allowing us access to the site for partici-
pant observation. This paper was supported, in part, by the Center for Sustainable Tourism and the
Department of Geography at East Carolina University and the Department of Geography and
Anthropology at Louisiana State University. The paper was produced in affiliation with the multi-
university and inter-disciplinary Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism (RESET) Initiative
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Modlin Jr et al. 17
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E. Arnold Modlin Jr is a geography doctoral candidate at Louisiana State University. His
dissertation research explores the roles tourists play in remembering slavery at plantation
house museums. His previous published research considered the role of tour guides
and museum management in creating and maintaining myths about the US Southern
plantation past. Address: Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana
State University, 227 Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex, Baton Rouge, LA 70803,
USA. [email:]
Derek H. Alderman is Professor of Geography and a Research Fellow in the Center for
Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University. His research interests include the poli-
tics of public memory and heritage tourism in the American South, particularly the com-
memoration of the civil rights movement and the slave experience. He is the co-author
(with Owen Dwyer) of Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory (University
of Georgia Press, 2008). Address: Department of Geography and Research Fellow,
Center for Sustainable Tourism, 227-A Brewster, East Carolina University, Greenville,
NC 27858, USA. [email:]
Glenn W. Gentry is Lecturer in Geography at State University of New York – Cortland.
His research interests include the representation of dissonant heritages and memories
through the bodily performances of people, having examined the role of sense of place
and movement in ghost walk tourism in Savannah, Georgia, and the use of tattoos as
memorials among survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Address: Department of Geography, State University of New York – Cortland, Old
Main, Room 138, Cortland, NY 13045, USA. [email:]
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... Tucker [50] compiled the existing literature on empathy and tourism. Studies about dark tourism [51,52] show that visits to places with suffering increase tourists' empathy, just as historical empathy is enhanced by visiting historical places [53] or altruism through volunteer tourism [54]. ...
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While research in heritage tourism tends to focus on cultural and anthropogenic motivations and drivers, this paper seeks to examine how social-media narration amidst a broader backdrop context in Chinese mass culture creates, perpetuates, and reinforce feline-focused narratives and practices among social media young followers. Drawing on text and image-based analyses of postings of cat sightings within the official Palace Museum account on a key Chinese microblog, this study reveals the application of three vital narrative strategies at work and corresponding empathic responses: ambassadorial, bounded, and broadcast. The Palace Museum has achieved an enhancement of interaction and emotional exchange between the heritage of Palace Museum and youths and generated a process from attention to emotional engagement and eventually to emotional identification on the part of youths in their attitude toward the heritage of Palace Museum through the workings of three key narrative strategies on Chinese social media. In doing so, this research illuminates the potential of social media-based narratives and charismatic animals in the revitalization of cultural heritage sites and the contributions of setting narrative strategies in engaging the younger audiences while also revitalizing the cultural heritage of the Palace Museum.
Urban displacement is receiving growing visibility within urban studies. However, most literature centres on the logic of late capitalism and tends to neglect colonial history and local resistance to displacement. This paper takes an alternative path: it relates (a) the history of colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the city of Jaffa with (b) the present‐day gentrification and displacement caused by neoliberal urbanism. To unpack this entanglement, the article focuses on political city walking tours led by Internally Displaced Palestinians in Jaffa, alongside a broader repertoire of urban subaltern tactics to reclaim it—ranging from community meetings to more overtly politicised acts of protest and initiatives to disrupt gentrification. The article therefore advances debates on urban displacement and urban citizenship mobilisation through the lens of post‐colonial theories, and by adopting a participatory interdisciplinary approach—from a novel perspective that centres local knowledge, lived experiences, and grassroots activism.
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This study explores the perspectives of re-enactor tour guides (RTG) concerning their role and re-enactment of dark histories—an overlooked topic within dark tourism research. A conceptual model is proposed that reflects the role of RTGs and how they differ from re-enactors and non-acting tour guides. The model was developed from data collected using rich picture building (RPB) during focus groups with RTGs at three lighter dark visitor attractions. The findings reveal RTGs are passionate about the history and committed to delivering memorable visitor experiences. They also reveal RTGs can offer attraction management constructive feedback and ideas to enhance the visitor experience. The study extends existing literature and provides important insights pertaining to RTGs and the re-enactment of dark histories within lighter dark tourism.
The article focuses on difficult heritage associated with three forms of structural violence in European history – the Communist and Nazi regimes and the former European colonies. We scrutinize how these three sources of difficult heritage are used in heritage diplomacy in the EU’s flagship heritage action, the European Heritage Label (EHL). On the one hand we analyse ‘diplomacy’ as principles and practices aimed at creating and maintaining peaceful and working relationships between actors both within and beyond the EU. On the other hand, we build on the related adjective ‘diplomatic’ as a tactful, delicate, and sensitive way of maintaining human relations. Our empirical data consists of interviews conducted at three EHL sites (Historic Gdańsk Shipyard (Poland), Camp Westerbork (the Netherlands) and Sagres Promontory (Portugal). We argue that unlike in the heritage of Communist and Nazi regimes, the potential for societal heritage diplomacy remains largely unrealized for colonial regimes.
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Die Arbeit gibt einen Einblick in die Verständigungspraxen bei Stadtführungen mit (ehemaligen) Obdachlosen, die in ihrem Selbstverständnis auf die Herstellung von Verständnis, Toleranz und Anerkennung für von Obdachlosigkeit betroffene Personen zielen. Zunächst wird in den Diskurs des Slumtourismus eingeführt und, angesichts der Vielfalt der damit verbundenen Erscheinungsformen, Slumming als organisierte Begegnung mit sozialer Ungleichheit definiert. Die zentralen Diskurslinien und die darin eingewobenen moralischen Positionen werden nachvollzogen und im Rahmen der eigenommenen wissenssoziologischen Perspektive als Ausdruck einer per se polykontexturalen Praxis re-interpretiert. Slumming erscheint dann als eine organisierte Begegnung von Lebensformen, die sich in einer Weise fremd sind, als dass ein unmittelbares Verstehen unwahrscheinlich erscheint und genau aus diesem Grund auf der Basis von gängigen Interpretationen des Common Sense ausgehandelt werden muss. Vor diesem Hintergrund untersucht die vorliegende Arbeit, wie sich Teilnehmer und Stadtführer über die Erfahrung der Obdachlosigkeit praktisch verständigen und welcher Art das hierüber erzeugte Verständnis für die im öffentlichen Diskurs mit vielfältigen stigmatisierenden Zuschreibungen versehenen Obdachlosen ist. Dabei interessiert besonders, in Bezug auf welche Aspekte der Erfahrung von Obdachlosigkeit ein gemeinsames Verständnis möglich wird und an welchen Stellen dieses an Grenzen gerät. Dazu wurden die Gesprächsverläufe auf neun Stadtführungen mit (ehemaligen) obdachlosen Stadtführern unterschiedlicher Anbieter im deutschsprachigen Raum verschriftlicht und mit dem Verfahren der Dokumentarischen Methode ausgewertet. Die vergleichende Betrachtung der Verständigungspraxen eröffnet nicht zuletzt eine differenzierte Perspektive auf die in den Prozessen der Verständigung immer schon eingewobenen Anerkennungspraktiken. Mit Blick auf die moralische Debatte um organisierte Begegnungen mit sozialer Ungleichheit wird dadurch eine ethische Perspektive angeregt, in deren Zentrum Fragen zur Vermittlungsarbeit stehen.
This empirically based article examines guides’ knowledge and skills acquisition. Using two cultural tourism attractions in New Zealand as field sites, the focus is on guides in cultural tourism contexts. Twenty-one semistructured in-depth interviews with guides and managers were conducted and analyzed using a social constructivist perspective. This article is thus among the first to add the voices of (Indigenous) guides to the discussions of guide knowledge acquisition and learning. The relevance of previous personal experience of guides, conceptualized as informal experiential (practice-based) learning and lifelong learning, is identified as critical in guided tour content selection and delivery, as well as in engagement with participants of a guided tour experience. Implications address power relationships, ownership of information and stories, and credibility of a message in (Indigenous) cultural tourism; the need to focus on recruitment of guides, and a call for perceiving guides as humans with a sophisticated, demanding, interpersonal role.
Conference Paper
This conceptual paper aims to facilitate an understanding of regenerative tourism by utilizing a complex systems perspective, taking a relational and integrated approach to the complexity, emergence, dynamism, and the wicked problems that arise. It requires understanding them from the perspective of key stakeholders, with care and attentiveness to those least able to speak for themselves and most vulnerable to emergent issues and threats like climate change. It is argued here that an ethic of care and empathy nurtures relational understanding and inclusiveness of vulnerable groups, communities and Nature, too, as key stakeholders, along with diverse knowledges and perspectives for critical action and change (praxis). Three main types of empathy are discussed: cognitive empathy, affective empathy, and conative empathy. It is further argued that conative empathy is action-oriented and paves the way for inclusivity, critical consciousness and action to facilitate healing, social justice, communal well-being and a healthy, flourishing planet.
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Former slave plantations that are now converted into tourist attractions constitute places of memory inherently associated with the memorialization of slavery in the United States. These plantation-museums are a central element of tourism in the South, as exemplified by the numerous tour-operators organizing visits of these historical sites. Louisiana offers a prime choice for anyone willing to embark on a plantation tour. “River Road,” the region following the course of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is now the hotspot for plantation tourism in Louisiana, attracting busloads of visitors. However, tourism plantations have long constructed their tours around a fantasized vision of the slave South, and many, to this day, still offer an idealized representation of that period. In recent years, others have chosen instead to focus on a more accurate interpretation of slavery that therefore deconstructs the romanticized narrative of plantation tours. In this article, I examine curatorial practices in several plantations to analyze the deconstruction of the main narrative and the more or less defined inclusion of the history of the enslaved.
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Studying civil rights memorials -- where they are located, what they honor, and what they neglect -- offers insights into the evolving condition of power and racism in American society. While the events that constitute the Movement's legacy are manifestly past, the act of identifying those events and interpreting their significance take place in the present.
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This study attempted to describe the different Western images related to Dracula tourism, and the role Bran Castle tour guides have in the image formation process. This is accomplished by analyzing the contents of Western tourists' travel blogs, and of qualitative interviews elicited from Bran Castle tour guides. The qualitative content analysis resulted in seven themes focused on historical and fictional images of the destination. The results show that the majority of Western bloggers visit Bran in search for Count Dracula; however, the Bran Castle tour guides focus on presenting the historical truth. The findings are discussed in terms of their relevance to the destination image formation literature and the concept of authenticity.
"Slavery has a greater presence in American life now than at any time since the Civil War ended," declares Ira Berlin in his presidential address to the Organization of American Historians. Berlin traces the growing attention to slavery in American popular culture and politics. But encounters between historical analysis and charged popular, memories of the past have not always gone smoothly. Berlin explores the tensions between memory and history and argues that scholarship on slavery must test memory against history's truths and infuse history with memory's passion.
In tourism studies globalization and localization are often conceived of as a binary opposition. The ethnography of an Indonesian group of tour guides presented here illustrates how the global and the local are intimately intertwined through what has been described as the process of "glocalization". The guides studied are remarkable front-runners of glocalization. They fully participate in global popular culture and use new technologies in their private lives. While guiding, however, they skillfully represent the glocalized life around them as a distinctive "local", adapted to the tastes of different groups of international tourists. It is concluded that tourism offers excellent opportunities to study glocalization, but that more grounded research is needed.