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2020-2021 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to present

“How Nations Grapple with their Difficult Pasts: Public Sites of Historical Memory and the Tourist Gaze"

Robin DeLugan, Associate Professor
Anthropology, University of California, Merced

Friday, March 19, 4PM-6PM PST
Hosted on Zoom [click here]

In Remembering Violence: How Nations Grapple with their Difficult Pasts (2020), I explore new public sites of historical memory (museums, monuments, and commemorations) in El Salvador, Spain, and the Dominican Republic that bring attention to 1930’s violence linked to 20th century dictatorship and authoritarianism. I argue that the efforts to recognize these nations’ difficult heritage not only contest dominant ideas about the nation and its past, but also aim to transform the nation and what it means to belong. Based on extensive ethnographic research at the sites of memory and with a diverse range of stakeholders including scholars engaged with national memory efforts, my research aims to capture a dynamic and ongoing process of nation building whereby official silences about past state violence are broken, and historical exclusions challenged.

While each case study stands alone, including in the specific goals and outcomes of efforts to re-imagine the nation, we can reflect on shared histories that link the three societies, as well as features of contemporary nation building that allow these case studies to be compared to other places in the world. For example, among the stakeholders in the processes I describe are international actors and audiences (transnational and diasporic citizens, United Nations entities, human rights organizations, and globally circulating popular media). While tourists and tourism may not be directly named in the book, in my presentation and with your engagement, we’ll make connections and explore topics such as: tourists as the audience for public sites of memory; who is the tourist interested in the sites of memory; how do tourists learn about national societies and why; and what role might tourists have in a nation’s ongoing processes of democratization, promoting human rights, and fostering inclusive national societies.


Speaker Bio
Dr. Robin Maria DeLugan is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research emphasizes political anthropology by focusing on nation-states, nation building, national identity and belonging with a particular focus on dynamics of race, ethnicity and nation. She received her BA, MA, and PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. While at UC Berkeley she worked at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology to develop expertise in museum studies. With Nelson Graburn her advisor in both undergraduate and graduate studies, she expanded a research focus on museum studies and also explored intersections with tourism studies. As an undergraduate she won the Alfred Kroeber award for outstanding senior thesis “Everything’s Coming Up Maya: Archaeology, Tourism and National Identity in Post-Civil War El Salvador”, the foundational early research continues to inform her methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of ongoing processes of nation building. Dr. DeLugan is a recipient of a number of fellowships including from the Ford Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright, and the American Philosophical Society. After receiving her doctoral degree, she became a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley before joining the University of California, Merced as founding anthropology faculty in 2006. At the University of California, Merced she has become a campus leader including by promoting and developing best practices for community engaged research and building collaborations between community and academic stakeholders. Currently Chair of Merced’s Academic Senate, DeLugan is also in the process of being promoted from Associate Professor to Professor. Dr. DeLugan is the author of Remembering Violence: How Nations Grapple with their Difficult Pasts (2020 Routledge), Reimagining National Belonging: Post-Civil War El Salvador in a Global Context (2012 University of Arizona Press) and numerous journal articles. book chapters and public opinion essays.

Discussant Bio
Bert Gordon, Professor of History Emeritus, Mills College. Prof. Gordon is the author of the recent volume War Tourism: Second World War France from Defeat and Occupation to the Creation of Heritage (Cornell University Press, 2018), and a veteran participant in TSWG events.

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