Apr. 19: Heritage Seekers / Toward Inclusive Cultural Tourism

On Thursday, final app sites are due.

Please also read Weeks, Gettysburg, chaps. 7-8 and Tyler-McGraw, “Southern Comfort Levels: Race, Heritage Tourism, and the Civil War in Richmond” (both on ECR).

For your 100-word blog post, please discuss the impact on tourism of the rise of what Weeks calls “image tribes.” How did Gettysburg changes reflect this new reality?

YouTube clip from 60 Minutes on Gettysburg Observation Tower controversy in 1970s
YouTube video of view from top of Gettysburg tower in 1994
YouTube clip of Gettysburg tower implosion in 2000
YouTube clip of reenactment of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg in 2008

Avatar of Mark Souther

About Mark Souther

I am an associate professor of history at Cleveland State University and director of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities. I'm the author of New Orleans on Parade: Tourism and the Transformation of the Crescent City, editor of American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, and am writing a new book on perceptions of decline in postwar Cleveland. Apart from my involvement in CPHDH, I authored a recent successful National Register of Historic Places nomination and serve on the Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission. My history interests include urban and suburban history, 20th-century U.S. political and cultural history, leisure and tourism, and architecture and historic preservation.
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8 Responses to Apr. 19: Heritage Seekers / Toward Inclusive Cultural Tourism

  1. Avatar of hfearing hfearing says:

    Events such as Vietnam and Watergate left baby boomer Americans seeking to find a heritage to replace the old assumptions of a “national purpose.” American society was becoming more individualistic, and with this change tourism also began to cater to the individual rather than the country as a group or a family.As is often the case in a country faced with national crises, citizens glorified and revered the past, looking toward the ideals that had once been in order to recreate a, or rather create a new, heritage. Popularity in media technology coalesced with this tendency: “Target advertising further social fracturing by herding consumers into ‘image tribes’ of like-minded individuals who felt a sense of belonging to the commercially created group” (p. 177). Movies such as Gettysburg, television broadcasts of battle reenactments, the reenactments themselves, monographs, Civil War enthusiast groups, souvenirs, tours, special events, heritage attraction theme parks, and more were ways that image tribes were propagated.

  2. Avatar of ysaleh ysaleh says:

    “Image Tribes” were consumers who wanted to belong to a commercially created group. So advertisement agency’s went along with this trend and split society into narrow groups trying to make a hobby seem like an extended family. In Gettysburg the idea was to have something for everyone and revive the economy at the same time. The recreation of Gettysburg broke people up into groups (image tribes) in the hopes of reviving the past and making it a fun, intriguing place to visit. They had civil war reenactments, war games, haunted lands, and collectors shop. As stated before, something for everyoe, and a way for people to feel like they belonged and were involved. Not just on vacation touring a bunch of old battlefields.

  3. Avatar of luzelac luzelac says:

    War which the nation could see each night on their own television set contributed to a fracturing of America into “image tribes’. These tribes changed the way Gettysburg operated. Advertising that was focused on each tribe or special interest group promoted the park differently for each. Tourist tribes also allowed visitors to enjoy the sites with like-minded fellow tourists. A war veteran who may still be haunted by thier experiences would want a very different tour than a civil war reenactor. That tour would be different from a family with young children. All these tourists were encouraged in their own specific ways.

  4. Avatar of cciullafaup cciullafaup says:

    Over the years, tourism and tourist attractions of Gettysburg have grown. These changes created various communities of people who are enthusiasts of all things Gettysburg. Referred to as image tribes, these tribes consist of collectors, reenactors, shop owners, tourists, and contemporary war gamers. All of these people contribute to the economics of Gettysburg. For an ever-growing number of enthusiasts, the need for more and more types of memorabilia/collectables changed Gettysburg from its more traditional state. Films like Burns’ Gettysburg caught people’s attention, and Gettysburg became more sought out. The enthusiasts feel a strong sense of community/family having shared passions for authenticity and preservation. Image tribes are very distinct from the more ordinary tourist, having a huge amount of zeal/enthusiasm toward the memory of Gettysburg and the objects/articles/events that surround it.

  5. Avatar of Matt Sisson Matt Sisson says:

    Image tribes are niche groups of self-conscious individuals that share similar economic tastes, which in turn make them unique among other groups. The image tribes supplanted family-oriented tourism, and as a result the tourism industry could no longer cater to a mass family audience. As these image tribes emerged, Gettysburg catered to each of them. Tourists saw the site as a recreational playground to explore their own individual interests, rather than a patriotic shrine to the past as generations before had. For instance, some tourists wanted to experience Gettysburg as if it was frozen in 1863, which gave rise to reenactments and living historians impersonating figures such as Abraham Lincoln. Other tourists became interested in the macabre, and as a result Gettysburg promoted itself as haunted and provided ghost tours.

  6. Zach LaFleur says:

    “Image Tribes” is the term Weeks uses to describe those groups of people who seize upon an activity or location, in this example, Gettysburg, for their own personal enjoyment. That enjoyment transcends any one specific label, as some began to appreciate Gettysburg simply for its raw history. Some “tribes” began to use Gettysburg as a place for wargames and reenactments. Gettysburg transformed from a single location with a single vision and a single purpose into a location where people came and were allowed to make of it what they wished. It became a malleable activity that tourists and their various “tribes” defined themselves.

  7. Avatar of jcdaling jcdaling says:

    Weeks uses the term “Image Tribes” to describe a specific niche of people in American society who have the same socioeconomic background, interests, and image of how Americans should act. Crises such as Watergate, Vietnam, and the publicizing of social reform all contributed to the creation of these tribes, and as per usual the tourist economy was quick to realize that a new type of advertisement was necessary to appeal to these “Tribes”. For example, Gettysburg began known for its raw history, and was used for reenactments, and was advertised as a place where a national ideal was to be reestablished, depending on what you wanted Gettysburg to be. It was still a beautiful park, with an observation tower for a time, but it could also be interactive, emotionally stimulating, and a reminder of what it means to be an American and fight for something real. “Image Tribes” were able to fill all of these niches.

  8. Avatar of rjprice88 rjprice88 says:

    Image Tribes were “groups” of people who changed the way that Gettysburg was portrayed and experienced. Instead of focusing on a family experience when taking a trip through Gettysburg, the site now appealed to individual groups of people who made up these “image tribes”. Gettysburg had become more of a destination for people of all types and ages. Gettysburg had war reenactments and statues for tourists who wanted to tour Gettysburg and receive the experience of the original site. Also there were/are plays, music and shopping for children who wanted to experience the site in a different type of way, to have fun rather than make it a total learning experience. The experience at Gettysburg had transformed in a way, which made the site enjoyable for people of all types and ages, not just for those who were interested in the Gettysburg site itself.

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