Hegelian dialecticism, critical theory, war, peace and tourism

Causevic, S. and Lynch, P.A. (2009) Hegelian dialecticism, critical theory, war, peace and tourism. In: 3rd International Critical Tourism Studies Conference, 2009-06-21 - 2009-06-24. (Unpublished)

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Studying tourism in the aftermath of political conflict has always been an important part of tourism research scholarship. Through the tourism lens, the study described here addresses the issues of social injustice and inequality, which are the consequence of a war and post-war legislation and regulation. The fieldwork took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The data was collected employing semi-structured interviews with tour guides and tourism decision makers, as well as overt participant observations of the tours occurring in politically contested sites. The data was analysed through the adoption of a critical perspective, which creates an emancipatory knowledge (Habermas 1978), giving voice to those themes and issues usually overlooked and marginalised through the mainstream perspectives. Besides using a critical approach, the research adopted Hegelian dialecticism, and reflexivity as tools to analyse the data, and which feed into a critical scholarship. The study finds that tourism is perceived as an alternative approach to social and political reconciliation which is happening within the post-conflict settings. This study places tourism under a larger political agenda identifying it as a part of a strategy which transforms places, cultures and societies through social reconciliation and urban regeneration following the political conflict. It reveals the issues and challenges which influence this process, among which the most powerful characteristic appears to be an issue of social and personal catharsis. The study argues that the dominant tourism discourse, i.e. objective ontology and realist epistemology, creates technical knowledge only, and applied to postconflict tourism development, it cannot grasp the real meaning that tourism brings to a particular society. Consequently this paper argues for a change in approach to tourism research. The study suggests a subjective/relativist ontology would lead to better understanding of the tourism phenomenon and emancipation of the less heard perspectives.