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What Is to Be Remembered?: Tourism to Ghana's Slave Castle-Dungeons

From: Theatre Journal
Volume 57, Number 4, December 2005
pp. 617-637 | 10.1353/tj.2006.0044

Abstract

This paper explores performances of identity enacted by black tourists and hosts in the "contact zone" of Ghana's castle-dungeons, now designated World Heritage sites because of the transatlantic slave trade that occurred there. Building upon ethnographic observation and personal reflection on trips taken between 1997 and 1999, journals and videos of other African American travelers, and scholarship on memory, tourism, and performance, I argue that differing memories-and forgettings-produce multiple surrogations in which triumphant actors stand in for the defeated. Further, though both Ghanaians and diasporic Africans invest in the trope of family, these memorial sites produce complex, contradictory responses registering tension, dissimilarity, and asymmetrical power relations as well as the possibility of a re-membered "family."