Edited by Cathy Rex (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire) and Shevaun Watson (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
We are seeking scholarly essays (5,000-8,000 words) for an edited book collection which will explore the ways early American sites, monuments, homes, museums, settlements, forts, etc. (before about 1830) are marketed to contemporary audiences as authentic historical or “heritage” tourist experiences while they often simultaneously ignore the complex racial dynamics that undergird their existence. This collection seeks to bring scholars together from various disciplines to analyze sites of historical and racial significance throughout the Americas (North and South) and the Caribbean in order to examine and unpack the complexities and tensions of representing history and memories in a popular, public way, especially when the very fact of a historic site’s existence may be predicated on legacies of imperialism, racism, genocide, and oppression.
Heritage tourism sites are charged with carefully balancing the bureaucratic, economic, and social policies that govern their operational successes and popularity with visitors alongside their responsibility to educate those visitors and authentically represent their site’s history. Very often these threads co-exist in fraught and complex ways that ultimately distort historic reality in favor of “safe ideas” that will continue to encourage active tourism and profit. These are the tensions that create what Athinodoros Chronis calls a “tourism imaginary,” which is the careful curation and coordination of place, narrative, and ideology that invites visitors to participate in fantasies about the past rather than confront the hard truths and uncomfortable legacies of that history, especially legacies concerning race. At best, experiences with the tourism imaginary at heritage sites leave visitors with a false sense of historic “authenticity” and intellectual edification. At worst, they reinforce ideas of Anglo/Western supremacy and erase or sterilize the racist frameworks of imperial history within the Americas.
This collection seeks essays from a variety of disciplines and theoretical frameworks as well as contributions from scholars both within academia (early American literature/studies, Public History, Rhetoric [English or Communications], Tourism Studies, Geography, etc.) and the public sector (Public Historians, Museum Curators, Preservationists, Archivists, etc.). This collection ultimately hopes to offer commentary on the ways in which sites of heritage tourism from the early Americas revise, reify, or complicate conceptions of identity, race and racism, history and education, public memory, and the tourist industry more broadly.
Send 500-word abstracts and a brief biographical statement (100 words or less) to [email protected] by July 15, 2019. We will notify authors of accepted proposals by August 15, 2019. Completed essays will be due November 1, 2019.