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The Concept of the Primitive in Texts and Images

From Colonial Travelogues to Tourist Blogs in Southwestern Ethiopia

Tamás Régi

The question of the cultural Other has always been central in the anthropology of tourism. The predominant way in which the Other appears in writings about Africa is as a manifestation of primitiveness. But the concept of the primitive tends to be treated in this literature in general terms, rather than analyzed through specific case studies. This article presents an image-dependent historiographical case study of the concept of the primitive through an analysis of colonial travelogues, hunting stories, guide and coffee table books and tourist blogs relating to the lower Omo Valley of southwestern Ethiopia. The article investigates how the trope of the primitive has been used as a politically and culturally powerful ideology and argues that a visual-historical methodology is an effective tool to explicate the social history of the primitive, an idea that draws many Western tourists to visit remote corners of Africa and seek out exotic tribes. The article is based on an extended period of anthropological field research and an extensive analysis of secondary sources.

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Re-Visiting the Site of the Former Soviet Prison Camp in Tambov

Florence Fröhlig

This article examines visits by French people to the former Soviet prison camp in Tambov, Russia, where Alsatians-Mosellans men were imprisoned during World War II. Because the memory of these prisoners of war, conscripted by force into the German army during the war is disappearing together with the witnesses, some survivors organized in the 1990s journeys to the Tambov former prison camp, called “pilgrimages.“ There are currently two kinds of pilgrimages: pilgrimages for survivors of the camp and their close relatives and pilgrimages for grandchildren of former Tambov inmates. This article suggests that the pilgrims, confronting their past, are engaged with a process of identity making, and that pilgrimage provides pilgrims with the opportunity to confront their grief for the dead or their sense of injustice and to let go of the past. The article concludes that with the pilgrimage the value of Tambov as a place of death is re-evaluated.

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Traveling by the Book

New South Wales Railway Guides and the "Tourist Gaze"

Colin Symes

Travel guidebooks are a dominant form of tourist literature, of which one early example was the railway guide. It is commonly asserted that among the many transformations wrought by rail was that it changed the way the landscape was perceived from trains. Utilizing picturesque discourses railway guides contributed to this transformation. They also helped propel railway-allied tourism, particularly in New South Wales during the second half of the nineteenth century and led to the publication of guides focusing more on destinations than journeys.

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Verstehen/Einfühlen in Arabian Sands

Wilfred Thesiger as Traveler and Anthropologist

Marielle Risse

Using Geertz's Verstehen/Einfühlen distinction, this article begins with an overview of the travel writing and anthropological work about Oman, concentrating on the southern region of Dhofar. The article then situates Wilfred Thesiger's classic Arabian Sands ([1959] 1991) within these two genres as an example of a writer who is able to show understanding for and empathy with his Bedu traveling companions. Thesiger's Verstehen is demonstrated through comparing the details he gives of Bedu culture with current manifestations. His Einfühlen is shown through his overarching concern for his companions and his respectful descriptions of their life, avoiding the typical Victorian condescension toward “natives“ and the self-absorbed gushing of many modern travel writers. Based on seven years of studying the culture of southern Oman, the article argues that Thesiger's writing shows a rare combination of accuracy and empathy, which elevates his book to a model of both anthropological and travel writing.

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Bodies in Motion

Pilgrims, Seers, and Religious Experience at Marian Apparition Sites

Sandra L. Zimdars-Swartz

Historically, walking has been an essential element of Christian pilgrimage. For medieval journeys of faith, whether from London to Canterbury, Santiago de Compostela, Rome, or Jerusalem, the rigors of walking the distance from home to site could demonstrate suffering, sacrifice, and devotion. Although people may arrive at a religious destination by plane, bus, or car, walking at the site remains essential to the pilgrim's experience of the sacred. Focusing on the reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, Necedah, Garabandal, Medjugorje, and Melleray and some later developments at these sites, this article examines the ways in which the physical movements of the pilgrims at these places establish a context for their experiences of the sacred. In the chaos of the crowds assembled at an ongoing apparition, experience is as fluid as the mingling of the pilgrims with each other and with the physical environment. These sites stand in stark contrast to well-established shrines where permanent structures orchestrate both movement and meaning.

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In the Footsteps of Walter Benjamin

Michael D. Jackson

In 2003, anthropologist and poet Michael Jackson went to French Catalonia with the intention of crossing the Pyrenees on the anniversary of Walter Benjamin's fateful journey on 25-26 September 1940. Retracing Benjamin's steps over a tortuous terrain of vineyards, stony paths and Mediterranean maquis, Jackson meditates on the life and work of the great twentieth-century philosopher, critical theorist, and essayist, as well as on the ways that events beyond our control or comprehension impact on and shape the course of our individual journeys through life.

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Introduction

Maria Pia Di Bella

Places of traumatic or miraculous events have often become sites to be visited by the victims or the faithful who were part of the event, by their heirs, by the community, or by strangers and tourists who feel compelled to come in order to better understand the event. Sometimes monuments are constructed on the physical site of the event to underline its historical importance and the necessity to remember it. Often, in a city or a geographic area, the traumatic events have taken place in different localities, giving rise to a trail that people follow in order to commemorate the event (from Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa to Boston’s Freedom’s Trail).

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Mobile Sepulchre and Interactive Formats of Memorialization

On Funeral and Mourning Practices in Digital Art

Maja Petrović-Šteger

The practical and imaginative possibilities offered by art works and art strategies have always been interesting for anthropological research. Analyzing an artistic endeavor that understands the dead as social software, the article investigates contemporary conceptualizations of death and grieving within modern informational economies. This article ethnographically considers the etoy “Mission Eternity Project“ which, among other artforms, has created a mobile sepulchre to investigate and challenge conventional practices of the disposal of the dead and of memorialization. The article seeks to generate terms for discussing how new artistic, digital and forensic technologies can reconfigure the more ordinary ways of dealing with the dead. The analysis is significantly informed by my previous anthropological work on practices of the collection, classification and DNA analysis of dead bodies in postconflict Serbia and Tasmania.

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Touring the African Diaspora

Cheryl Finley

This article examines the impact of art, performance, and technology on the global transformation of heritage tourism in recent years. Thanks to a series of case studies focusing on sites of memory deemed important to diasporic Africans, this article shows how art, performance, and technology are central to identity formation through an examination of mnemonic aesthetics and practices. Recent changes in heritage tourism have given rise to the establishment of categories such as “tangible“ and “intangible“ heritage as well as the construction of museums, the implementation of walking tours or the promotion of reenactments and ritual performances alongside environmental, volunteer, and virtual tourism. But how do tourists' interpretations of historic sites of memory change when various economic, political, social, and cultural factors converge globally? People seek experiences and outlets that could enable them to cling to those things that are familiar to them, while enabling them to identify with like communities in the midst of ground-shaking social, technological, economic, and political changes. Heritage tourism is one of those social practices that produces a sense of centeredness through a complex negotiation and presentation of memory, art, and performance.

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Walking Memory

Berlin's “Holocaust Trail“

Maria Pia Di Bella

Since the early 1990s, Berlin has developed what I call a “Holocaust trail“-circa twenty-five officially dedicated memorial sites recalling significant historical events leading to the Final Solution-without acknowledging it yet as a “trail.“ Berlin is already well known for its two famous museums-memorials: the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (2005) and the Jewish Museum (2001), two strong statements meant to show how the town deals with the heritage of the Holocaust, how it tries to underline the absolute impossibility of its erasure from social memory and to fight revisionism. The different memorial sites of the Holocaust trail came into existence thanks to multiple initiatives that allowed the town to become a true laboratory for the politics of memory concerning the crimes of the Nazi state and the sufferings of the Jewish citizens that fell victim to the state's genocide.