Geographies of affect in places of death and disaster: Tohoku, Japan, after 3.11

Annaclaudia Martini


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    This thesis uses geographies of affect to analyse the construction, management and experience of post-disaster tourism and heritage. Fieldwork for this research was conducted in the coastal area of the Tohoku region of Japan. In 2011 this area was hit by an earthquake and tsunami and, in the southern prefecture of Fukushima, by a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The thesis approaches the theoretical, methodological, and empirical issues raised by studies of affect in dark places, and considers a constellation of contexts related to post-disaster tourism in the region, specifically in: the town of Kuji, which used the disaster as a way to revitalize their traditional heritage; Rikuzentakata, a town trying to develop long-lasting international tourism; the Fukushima exclusion zone; and the case of post-disaster debris retrieved across the Pacific Ocean and brought back to Japan to be memorialized. In the theoretical approach used, dark tourism studies are framed within socio-spatial theories of affect, so as to better understand the affective layer of dark tourism, and how tourists’ affects are negotiated in post-disaster tourism in Tohoku, Japan; how they are politically engineered by tourism workers and local stakeholders through processes of place-making; and the ways post-disaster sites are framed by news and information outlets to which the tourist has been exposed. Places of death, disaster and atrocities negotiate painful pasts, ethically problematic situations, and strong emotional and affective reactions from locals and visitors alike. Tourists’ affective responses to death and disaster have not yet been studied in-depth by academics, but have the potential to elicit moments of intensity in the interaction with space, and such intensities can resonate with and be picked up by tourists. A theoretical and empirical work on affects in dark tourism places can also benefit geographies of affect, by offering insights in intensities of affect that can be more prominently expressed in places of disaster, such as hope, catharsis, and the experience of the sublime.
    Originele taal-2English
    KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
    Toekennende instantie
    • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
    • Vanclay, Frank, Supervisor
    • van Hoven, Bettina, Co-supervisor
    Datum van toekenning20-jun.-2019
    Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
    Gedrukte ISBN's978-94-034-1708-0
    StatusPublished - 2019

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