Charles Forsdick (James Barrow Professor of French, U. of Liverpool, UK): "Sites of suffering, sites of memory "
The development of heritage sites associated with histories of enslavement and incarceration has increased in recent decades, as has the scholarly interest in them. The paper draws on a recent comparative project on dark tourism to explore the heritage practices at such locations. It analyses the emergence of dark tourism as a field of enquiry, and reflects on its (un)translatability across languages and cultures. Taking slavery-related examples from the southern states of the USA (the Whitney Plantation), the Caribbean (the proposed N a Sonje Memory Village in Haiti) and West Africa (Cape Coast, Elmina and Gorée Island), the paper considers the motivations for visiting these locations and the ways in which they function as tourist destinations. I also address the intersections of slavery and incarceration, considering locations such as Angola (Louisiana State Penitentiary) where these phenomena exist in a palimpsestic relationship. The cases presented in this study reveal the need for a more nuanced ethical response to dark tourist destinations that recognizes the overlaps and/or intersections of pasts judged to be ‘difficult’. I suggest in conclusion that such an approach would constitute a response, in the area of dark tourism, to what Michael Rothberg has dubbed the ‘multidirectional option’.
Charles Forsdick is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. He is currently Arts and Humanities Research Council theme leadership fellow for ‘Translating Cultures’. He has published on a range of subjects, including travel writing, colonial history, postcolonial and world literature, and the memorialization of slavery. Recent publications include The Black Jacobins Reader (Duke University Press, 2016) and Toussaint Louverture: Black Jacobin in an Age of Revolution (Pluto, 2017). Forsdick co-edited Human Zoos: Science and Spectacle in the Age of Colonial Empire (Liverpool University Press, 2008) and curated with ACHAC the exhibition ‘Human Zoos: The Invention of the Savage’ in Liverpool in 2016. A member of the Academy of Europe, Charles Forsdick was Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, 2010-13. He currently leads an international project on ‘“Dark Tourism” in Comparative Perspective: Sites of Suffering, Sites of Memory’.
Séminaire organisé par Judith Misrahi-Barak(EMMA) et Maxime Del Fiol (RIRRA21).