What makes historical tourism so compelling? The author reflects upon her personal experience of Holocaust tourism to tease out its meaning and appeal. The paper considers the making of meaning through the in-situ experience, including through association, sensory perception, and imagination. The paradigm of dark tourism, traditionally associated with superficial consumption, is dismissed as being too naive a rendering of the visitor experience. Instead, the author commends the tourist’s inherent capacity to make connections between the past and the present, and thereby generate meaning. Ultimately, however, the author finds her most authentic response to “being there” is one of commemoration, since she knows that what she is visiting in the present is not history itself, but merely a memory of it.
Commemorating in Place: Reflections on the Meaning and Experience of Holocaust Tourism
Joanna Auerbach has had a varied career including as a legal practitioner, theatre producer, and business owner in the counselling and wellbeing field. She has been a volunteer guide of Holocaust history at the Sydney Jewish Museum since 2014 and is currently completing a Master of History at University of New England, with a focus on the interplay between history, memory, and trauma. Joanna lives in Sydney, Australia where she was born and raised.
Joanna Auerbach; Commemorating in Place: Reflections on the Meaning and Experience of Holocaust Tourism. The Public Historian 1 February 2024; 46 (1): 29–42. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2024.46.1.29
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