Negative simulation, spectacle and the embodied geopolitics of tourism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

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  • University of Arizona

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-673
Number of pages13
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Volume43
Issue number4
Early online date23 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2018
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper builds on recent work on the embodied geopolitics of tourism to investigate the Titan Missile Museum (TMM), a Cold War-era underground nuclear missile silo and command bunker in the southwest USA. In examining how visitors are not only persuaded to adopt certain attitudes towards the weaponry, but are enrolled in an embodied experience that is active in the formation of subjectivity that emerges from such an encounter, the paper draws on the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard and other nonrepresentational theorists to argue that this tourism encounter is a negative simulation that can be informed by a better understanding of "hyperreal" spectacle. This spectacle, however, does not simply fall in the realm of representation but is one that engages affect and emotion as important for the emergence of geopolitical subjectivity. While the TMM works to produce what Baudrillard might call a "non-event" out of nuclear geopolitics, it also takes the risk of getting too close to the bomb by simulating its launch. These dynamics are encapsulated in the highlight of the standard one-hour tour: the simulation of a missile launch, something that never took place. Drawing on our experience at the TMM and visitor comments left online at Yelp.com, as well as the broader archive of journalism and scholarship on the site, we also sense the possibility of something else emerging out of the embodied and performative materialities that constitute this site of "dark tourism".