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Provincia di Ravenna

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Camera di Commercio di Ravenna

Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

The Western Front, a European Site of Memory: Battlefield Tourism as a Vector of History

di Delphine Lauwers
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 37 (2011), p. 87

This paper seeks to explore the practice of battlefield tourism in the Ypres Salient (Belgium) since 1918. Battlefield tourism is now considered as one of the major fields of Public History. We will thus examine this practice and how it has evolved in a country where Public History does not exist as a discipline. The actors of this tourism and the meanings associated to the memorial landscape of the Ypres Salient have changed over the decades. Besides a growing involvement of local authorities and professional historians in the process of commemoration of the Great War around Ypres, one can notice a growing political use of these commemorations. In the very peculiar context of Belgium, any national dimension of the memories of the conflict seems to be excluded, the accent being put on the regional and transnational levels of the experiences of the Great War. Key words: Great War; Ypres Salient; Reconstruction; Conflicting memories; Battlefield tourism; Transnational history; Public History.