2014 S3: Meagan Roche

A Guide to Conquest: What Crusades Tourism Reveals about the Construction of French National Identity

This paper examines how contemporary French identity is expressed at tourist sites related to the Crusades at a time when a growing number of Muslim immigrants live in France. ‘Cultural heritage sites’ reproduce and maintain a shared history that shapes collective identity and contemporary social life (DiGiovine and Picard 2014). The study of tourism reveals that it is not a passive representation of a distant history, but instead functions as an active participant in modern identity construction. Historical tourist sites reproduce societal memories and beliefs in describing what happened at these sites and its significance. This ethnographic research focuses on representations found at tourist sites associated with historical conflicts during the Reconquista (718-1492 CE) that pitted Christianity against Islam. Sites in this discussion are analyzed with an emphasis on how touristic information at these locales negotiates, asserts, and reproduces French national and cultural identity.

Faculty Mentor: Deana Weibel, Anthropology

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