Tourism and Memories of Home

This month we’re publishing Tourism and Memories of Home edited by Sabine Marschall. In this post, Sabine explains the inspiration behind the book and discusses the phenomenon of tourism in search of memories of home.

Tourism and Memories of HomeA few years ago, I asked my father to record his childhood memories about World War II and the family’s expulsion and flight. As a child, I witnessed my grandparents’ nostalgia; granny would always start crying when she talked about the lost home. Their longing to see the old home one more time remained unfulfilled, but as a young student, I undertook that return visit on their behalf, carefully documenting every move. The journey became one of the most memorable of my life.

Perhaps it is due to aging that I have recently become more interested in family history and reflections on my own past, including my experiences of migration and travel, my memories and sense of home. When I began to explore these issues academically, employing self-reflexivity and auto-ethnography, I was surprised to find how strongly these experiences seemed to resonate with others. Individuals from different countries and various walks of life approached me at conferences and social gatherings to share their story. I began to see patterns and realized the wider significance of these return visits home.

Globally, many people have lost their home or homeland due to warfare, political conflict or disaster; memories of the traumatic loss and the desire to return remain an important part of their identity, often passed on to their children and shaping the historical consciousness of future generations. Those who moved voluntarily visit friends and family back home; their descendants travel in pursuit of family history and search for roots; diasporic communities tour real and imagined ancestral homelands in a quest for identity and a sense of belonging; others stage homecomings and recreate homeland culture in substitute locations. Ultimately, memories of home generate a lot of travel the world over, from short local trips to long international journeys combined with other activities. Most people do not think of such journeys as tourism and many emphatically reject that label. Yet the sustained flow of such travelers has prompted tourism authorities, tour operators and academic scholars to describe, investigate and analyze these mobility patterns as distinct and significant, classifying them as ‘diasporic roots tourism’, ‘ethnic homecoming’, ‘homesick tourism’ (Heimwehtourismus), Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) tourism, ‘personal heritage tourism’, ‘dark tourism’ and a host of related terms.

Foregrounding the role of memory, this book brings together contributors from different countries whose ethnographic case studies explore tourism in search of memories of home in a large spread of geographical and societal contexts past and present.

Tourism and the Power of OthernessTourism and SouvenirsFor more information about the book, please see our website. If you found this post interesting, you might also like Tourism and the Power of Otherness edited by David Picard and Michael A. Di Giovine and Tourism and Souvenirs edited by Jenny Cave, Lee Jolliffe and Tom Baum.

 

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