Accepted paper:

The role of photography in the touristification of war


Patrick Naef (University of Geneva)

Paper short abstract:

War heritage is progressively becoming a major tourist resource in post-war countries. Over the past decades, several countries, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Northern-Ireland, have experienced a boom in tourism flows attached to war sites.

Paper long abstract:

This contribution aims to explore the role of photography within the framework of war and tourism. In a post-war context, photography constitutes an important element of testimony to warfare events. Furthermore, tourist visits are occurring more and more rapidly following the end of a war, leading to a hasty reconstruction of the tourism sector in concerned post-conflict regions. Photography of war has thus become an important tourism resource at tourist sites dealing with war heritage, such as museums, memorials, exhibitions or even in the framework of artefacts and souvenirs (e.g. postcards, books, posters). The main objective of this paper is to analyse the representations and the imaginary that visual objects can create, not only for the tourists who visit war heritage sites, but also for the local population, which can be marked by a more personal, and above all, more traumatic, connection to this heritage. Another purpose is to explore the dynamics that guide the actors managing tourist war sites. Does the presentation of images via the tourism sector aid in easing tensions that may linger in a post-war context? Or, on another hand, do they serve to enhance those tensions as a result of a unilateral interpretation of war events, which can be reinforced by the exhibition of traumatic photography? Finally, the role of photography within the field of anthropology and war will be briefly discussed, looking specifically at a recent methodological trend referred to as "aftermath photography". Data gathered during fieldwork in Bosnia, Vietnam and Cambodia will serve as a base for this contribution.

panel P12
Tourism and Photography