Tourists at Chernobyl
DOI link for Tourists at Chernobyl
Tourists at Chernobyl book
This chapter examines the English- and Russian-language websites of five tour operators. It begins with the paradigm of "dark tourism", applied by Chernobyl researchers. The chapter proposes an alternative: "existential tourism", attracted not primarily to death but to experiences that shake one's sense of meaning and provoke new understanding. The discussion of existential tourism moves beyond Erik Cohen's classic definition by resituating the concept within the new field of "existential media studies", which draws attention to vulnerability and the ambivalence of connectivity. Chernobyl is a polysemous heritage site, generating layers of conflicting "emotion, memory and practice". The chapter proposes the new understanding of existential tourism as one resource to help make sense of this complexity. It deals with a survey of the literature on dark tourism, which theorizes the attraction of death and disaster and has often taken Chernobyl as a study.