The Greek Fall: Simulacral Thanatotourism in Europe

By Rodanthi Tzanelli.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper explores the socio-cultural dynamics of Greek demonstrations in 2011, suggesting that their function exceeds that of social movements as we know them. A form of what I term “simulacral thanatotourism,” including marches and demonstrations to Greek cities in protest for austerity measures, actualised in this context a form of mourning about the end of Greece’s place in European polity. This mourning, which places Greece at the centre of a withering European democratic cosmos, inspires in today’s dystopian Greek Raum two conflicting forms of social action: one is geared towards consumption of the country’s political history in terms similar to those we examine as “tourism.” This symbolic consumption of history re-writes the European past from a Greek standpoint while simultaneously promoting relevant entrepreneurial initiatives—in particular, the global circulation of imagery linked to riots and protests, and thus the movement of the abject aspects of Greek culture in global spaces. The second form of action is directed against the image of contemporary Greece as a corrupt topos that does not deserve a place in Europe’s political Paradise; this places the blame for the nation’s demise on its political factions. The two forms of action may be antithetical but do coexist in Greek social movements to the date, articulating a cosmology of nostalgia for Greece as an idyllic tourist object. The paper explores these themes through the proliferation of imagery in recent demonstrations, highlighting how a tourist-like marketing of activist visual culture partakes in reproductions of theological ideas rooted in Europeanist discourse.

Keywords: Consumption, Cosmology, Europe, Greece, Simulation, Social Movements, Thanatotourism, Travel (Imaginative)

Global Studies Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.105-120. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 10.203MB).

Dr. Rodanthi Tzanelli

Lecturer in Sociology, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

Rodanthi Tzanelli is a lecturer in Sociology at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds. She has been Deputy Director at the Center for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, Leeds (2007–2011), and Visiting Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University (April-August 2007, November 2008, September 2009). Currently, she serves as member of International Advisory Board, Ikarian Centre for Social and Political Research, Ikaria, Greece and as Associate Member at the Institute for Colonial and Post-colonial Studies, University of Leeds. Her research interests include the sociology of globalisation and tourism (with particular reference to the politics and ethics of culture industries and the relationship of film and tourist industries) and representations of deviancy (with particular reference to race, ethnicity and gender). She has published on national identity, cosmopolitanism, globalization and the ethics and politics of cultural industries (media, tourism). She is the author of four books including The Cinematic Tourist: Explorations in Globalization, Culture and Resistance (2007 hardback, 2010 paperback) and Cosmopolitan Memory in Europe’s “Backwaters”: Rethinking Civility (2011).

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