Title: Memory texts and Nazi concentration camps: a comparative analysis

Authors: Patricia A. Stokowski

Addresses: Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, 312 E Aiken Center, 81 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT, 05405, USA

Abstract: How do visitors make sense of history at dark tourism sites, and how do onsite experiences help to structure memory? Asserting that the memory-making potential of tourism sites arises from discursive foundations, this paper analyses textual presentation and enactment at four Nazi concentration camp sites (Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, Buchenwald and Dachau in Germany, and Mauthausen in Austria). Data suggest that concentration camp sites are experienced by visitors within three distinct but interwoven texts: linguistically, in texts of dissonance provided by managers onsite; symbolically, in texts of absence fostered during visitors' personal encounters with sites; and imaginatively, in creative texts personally constructed during visitors' experiences onsite. Each of these texts stimulates cultural memory, communicative memory, or a combination of both. Together, they are foundational elements of a genre of dark tourism discourse that organises texts, their producers and 'readers' (tourists, others), and relevant contexts to construct meaning and provoke collective memory.

Keywords: collective memory; dark tourism; discourse; genre; landscape; language; meaning construction; memory; Nazi-era concentration camps; symbolism; texts.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2018.092063

International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2018 Vol.6 No.2, pp.154 - 171

Received: 31 Jul 2017
Accepted: 22 Feb 2018

Published online: 18 May 2018 *

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