Managing the masses and handling history

Managing the masses and handling history

Managing the masses and handling history:
how Auschwitz-Birkenau handles mass tourism

Vol. 2, no. 1, pages 23-41
Author: 
Anne-Sophie Halbertsma
University College Utrecht

Abstract

How ‘difficult heritage’ sites renegotiate their identity when confronted with mass tourism is examined through a case study of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland. Ethical, marketing/promotional, interpretational, and managerial dimensions are considered. Marketing strategies focusing on entertainment exploit and trivialise the heritage site, although sometimes augmenting engagement, and reformulating norms and values. Moreover, the viewpoint of the villagers living nearby, is overlooked. These strategies are founded in a post-Cold War capitalist discourse departing from Communist approaches using the site for propaganda. Yet, more interpretations of the site inform marketing and management strategies. Hence, the ABMM’s manners of dealing with tourism are diverse and constantly renegotiated—demanding further research

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