2017-2018 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce
Tourism and War: Fashioning Memory of the First World War in France

Bert Gordon
Professor, History, Mills College

Friday, Nov. 3, 5:00pm
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley

Almost immediately after the First World War, with a need for economic reconstruction after the severe destruction of the conflict, the Touring Club de France and the Office National du Tourisme launched campaigns to promote battlefield tourism and the Michelin Tire Company and Thomas Cook’s promoted battlefield tourism with guidebooks to the sites. Feelings of national pride and pilgrimage tourism were combined with the commercial interest of the Michelin Company in promoting the use of automobiles. World War I tourism expanded more recently with the opening of the Historial de la Grand Guerre 1914-1918 in 1992 at Péronne, near the Somme River, one of the sanguinary battlegrounds of World War I and of the Musée de la Grande Guerre in 2011 at Meaux, near the sites of the bloody battles of 1914 and 1918, along the Marne River, as well as near Disneyland Paris. War tourism has also been enhanced by the use of technology, exemplified by the creation of a Facebook page for a fictional First World War soldier, based on photographs from the Meaux Museum’s collection and used as an extension of the Museum’s work, especially in regard to organized visits by groups of schoolchildren, an important audience for war museums in France. Significant anniversaries also play a role with large increases in tourism to World War I sites in 2014, the centennial of the outbreak of the war. This presentation uses the example of the First World War sites in France to argue that war or battlefield tourism plays a significant role in the transmission of cultural memory in France, as elsewhere, and that it also makes substantial contributions to the economies of specific local areas. The links between war and tourism, two sets of long-term human activities, offer much to be explored.

Speaker Bio:
Bert Gordon is Professor of History at Mills College. He is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Tourism History; is General Secretary of the International Commission for the History of Travel and Tourism, affiliated with the International Committee of Historical Sciences; and serves as co-editor of the H-Travel Internet discussion network. He teaches courses in European history that include "Men, Women, and Travel: Tourism in Europe Since the Renaissance" and "Cuisine History." Specializing in the history of World War II France, he is the author of Collaborationism in France during the Second World War (Cornell University Press, 1980); the editor of The Historical Dictionary of World War II France: The Occupation, Vichy and the Resistance, 1938-1946 (Greenwood Press, 1998); and co-editor of Food and France: What Food Studies Can Teach Us about History, a special issue of French Historical Studies (April 2015). His book, With Camera and Guidebook: Tourism in France and the Second World War, will be published by Cornell University Press in 2018. Book chapters to appear in the near future include “’To Live in France’: The Confluence of Tourism, Memory, Migration and War,” in Sabine Marschall, ed., Memory, Tourism, and Migration (Routledge) and “The Other Side: Investigating the Collaborationists in World War II France,” in Manu Braganca and Fransiska Louwagie, eds., Ego-histories of France and the Second World War: Writing Vichy (Palgrave Macmillan). His article “Rebonds: Pourquoi les Américains adorent le D-Day” appeared in the French newspaper Libération (8 June 2009), p. 36. He may be contacted on: bmgordon@mills.edu.

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