2018-2019 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce

Magdalena Banaszkiewic
Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology
Institute of Intercultural Studies, Jagiellonian University

Tuesday, November 13, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Barrows Hall, Room 192
University of California, Berkeley

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ), since its establishment after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, has experienced various stages of development. For recent years, there has been an intensive development of tourism in the area. According to data obtained from the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management, the CEZ was visited by 49,758 tourists in 2017, i.e. almost 15 thousand more than in 2016 and six times more than in 2014. The Zone is becoming an area for development of both organized mass tourism, whose offer includes mainly one-day group trips from Kiev, and illegal tourism, which can be labelled as urban exploration.

The specific character of the Zone is due to several facts. Firstly, the legal nature of the Zone, which is a displaced area under the strict control of the State responsible for its security. Secondly, the continued high levels of radioactivity of some areas, that might result in serious health damage. Thirdly, the condition of material objects, physical destruction of which is one of the attractions strongly influencing tourism imaginaries. However, at the same time, the inevitable process of ruination gradually limits the area of exploration for visitors. Fourthly, the fact that the Zone is both a site of memory, a physical space symbolizing a nodal event for Ukrainian memory and identity, and a large nature reserve, where nature has been developing practically unhindered for over 30 years.

Reaching for the concept of stakeholders known from management will allow to explain why the CEZ can be considered as dissonant heritage by describing the complexity of the current functioning of the Zone, in which various entities express different, often contradictory, expectations and needs. Through their involvement in the process of negotiating meanings, individual stakeholders participate in the reinterpretation of the Zone's heritage, which illustrates the paradigm of the performativity of heritage.

The concepts addressed in the following speech are subject to research as a part of the project „Guiding and witnessing. The analysis of biographical elements in the narrative of tour guides in the context of interpretation of the dissonant heritage of the Chernobyl” (implemented with the funds from the National Science Centre in the "Sonata" competition No 2016/23/D/HS3/01960)

Speaker Bio:
Magdalena Banaszkiewicz, a cultural anthropologist, assistant professor at the Institute of Intercultural Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, lecturer at Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University and visiting professor at the University of Rochester (USA), University of Sophia (Bulgaria), the European University Viadrina (Germany). The main topic of her research are dissonances connected with the commodification of socialist/communist heritage in Central and Eastern Europe. She co-edited the collective volume “Anthropology of Tourism in Central and Eastern Europe: Bridging Worlds” published in Lexington Books in 2018. Her newest monograph “Turystyka w miejscach kłopotliwego dziedzictwa” [Tourism in dissonant heritage sites] published in 2018 in the Jagiellonian University Press compares three cases (Lenin’s Mausoleum, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Nowa Huta district) through lens of tourist experience. Recently, she has been exploring tour guides’ narratives in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (the research project 2016/23/D/HS3/01960 funded by the National Science Centre, Poland).

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