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Dances with despots: tourists and the afterlife of statues

Elizabeth Carnegie () and Jerzy Kociatkiewicz ()
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Elizabeth Carnegie: Newcastle University Business School
Jerzy Kociatkiewicz: LITEM - Laboratoire en Innovation, Technologies, Economie et Management (EA 7363) - UEVE - Université d'Évry-Val-d'Essonne - Université Paris-Saclay - IMT-BS - Institut Mines-Télécom Business School - IMT - Institut Mines-Télécom [Paris], IMT-BS - MMS - Département Management, Marketing et Stratégie - TEM - Télécom Ecole de Management - IMT - Institut Mines-Télécom [Paris] - IMT-BS - Institut Mines-Télécom Business School - IMT - Institut Mines-Télécom [Paris]

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Abstract: In times of liquid modernity, when human lifespan often exceeds that of grand political structures, monumental statues continue to be built and celebrated as symbols of enduring ideological triumphs. In their apparent permanence, these statues often outlive the political systems they were designed to glorify, creating a dilemma of how to exhibit their ambiguous or disgraced presence. In this article, we argue that the heritagization of political figures and pasts is central to the reframing of such narratives and that tourists have a key, if sometimes unwitting,role to play in the shaping of the emerging political imaginaries.Focusing on statue parks in Central and Eastern Europe showcasing communist-era sculptures, we examine strategies of exhibition and tourist responses to the multivalent presence of the monuments of past regimes. We identify four approaches of destruction, delegitimization, decontextualization, and depoliticization, each tied to a particular political moment and rhetorical goal. Examining these shifting modes of preservation, presentation and interpretation, we query the tourists' role as participants in the processes of stabilization and peace-building, proposing that in times of global re-evaluation of the symbolism of past monuments, these sites can serve to guide much needed analysis and reflection.

Keywords: Sustainable tourism; Reflexivity; Qualitative research; Politics; Monuments; Heritage management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-02-21
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Published in Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 2022, 30 (2-3), pp.584-599. ⟨10.1080/09669582.2021.1909602⟩

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DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2021.1909602

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