Gary Baines (Rhodes University, South Africa) and Ryota Nishino (University of the South Pacific, Fiji) are planning to organise a panel for the 5th Contemporary Cultural Studies Conference in Singapore to be held on 27-28 November 2017.
Studies of war tourism have noted that the soldier can be likened to a traveller (Lisle 2000, 2016). But frequently their travel does not end with their tours of duty and continues in later life. Such travel does not amount to a form of leisure or recreation for the purposes of sightseeing. Rather, veterans plan itineraries and make trips that are purposefully designed to include sites connected with their military experience, visiting erstwhile battlegrounds or military bases. They do so for a range of reasons. Certain veterans visit such sites to pay respect to deceased comrades thereby engaging in a form of therapy in order to promote a personal healing process and closure (Sharply & Baldwin 2009). Clark (2002) categories such activities as a form of “therapy tourism”. Other veterans are more concerned with remembering the camaraderie borne of the shared experience of training and fighting together. Some examples are:
- US veterans of the Vietnam War returning to Vietnam (Michalowski and Dubisch 2001, Espey 2004);
- Japanese veterans travelling to the battlefields they fought during the Asia-Pacific War (Yamashita 2009)
- South African veterans visiting Namibia and Angola (Baines 2014);
- Travel writing to battle fields (Nishino forthcoming)
- and many more.
This said, we, the panel organisers, find the phenomenon of veterans’ war-related travel does not neatly fit with the term militourism or its equivalent as other scholars have suggested (Enloe 1989, 2014, Teaiwa 1994 and 1999, Figal 2012, Vicuña Gonzalez 2013, Lisle 2016). Therefore, we have coined the term ‘vet tourism’, and want to explore and refine how the personal and collective memories of war veterans and war-related tourism intersect.
The war-related travel undertaken by military veterans conforms to what Marschall (2014) calls personal memory tourism. This she defines as ‘[a] form of travel motivated by autobiographical memories, focused on retracing previous memorable journeys; the revisiting of destinations associated with key moments in a person’s life and the deliberate return to sites associated with one’s past.’ While personal memory tourism is ‘an extremely individualized phenomenon that largely defies classification of taxonomies of tourists and tourism’, we would argue that the travel activities of veterans are prompted by their personal experiences that are contingent upon their own memories. Remembering is a pivotal process that has not received sufficient attention in the literature on war-related travel by military veterans. It informs not only travel planning but how reminiscences are recorded and translated into memoirs and travelogues.
We welcome papers that address any of the following themes:
- The various forms of war-related tourism
- The relationship between personal/collective memory and war travel/tourism
- Travel writing by veterans who visit battle sites after their military service.
Please submit a 300-word abstract and short biography of no more than 100 words by 31 May to the following email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Please insert ‘Vet Tourism’ in the subject line.