Domestic tourism and transitional justice: Exploring the relationship in Romania’
Authors: Light, D.
Conference: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Transitional Justice
Dates: 6-7 July 2021Abstract:
While transitional justice has received extensive interdisciplinary attention, one theme that has been largely overlooked is tourism. The few studies to consider tourism have focused on its contribution to economic development and job creation in former conflict zones, potentially contributing to reconciliation between former opponents. Within tourism studies there has been considerable attention to the relationship between tourism and politics but this has rarely embraced transitional justice.
This paper argues that domestic tourism can be an important means through which citizens encounter broader transitional justice projects and messages. It considers this issue with reference to a memorial museum in Romania. Interviews with 52 domestic tourists explored how visitors engaged with (and responded to) the museum’s messages. Almost all visitors described themselves as on a sightseeing holiday but their encounters were far from superficial. They had engaged in reflection and memory work; displayed compassion and empathy for victims; had considered the differences between the communist past and the democratic present; and almost all had recognised and understood the message of ‘never again’. Some had spoken of personal transformation as a result of their visit. The paper argues that important political and cultural ‘work’ can take place during practices of domestic tourism, even if this was not something intended or anticipated by the tourists themselves.