Between trauma and healing: tourism and neoliberal peace-building in divided societies

John Nagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deeply divided societies that have undergone extreme civil violence are often framed as "collectively traumatized" or in a state of "melancholia." Such aetiologies support peace-building initiatives, which seek either to normalize society by forgetting the legacy of violence and starting anew or by engendering societal remembering to work through trauma and bring about societal healing and eventual "closure." Examining the case of Northern Ireland, this article considers how these discrepant processes regarding collective trauma have become bound with fierce ethnopolitical debates and counter-insurgency methods regarding how to promote the region to tourists. I argue that both approaches represent nostrums, which do little to support peace-building and are ultimately complementary with neoliberal designs concerning the relationship among tourism, economic prosperity and conflict-regulation. Discourses concerning "collective trauma" must therefore be viewed as political strategies to shape the nation, which are finally embodied in the tourist journey to "traumatized sites."
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-49
Number of pages21
JournalJourneys: The International Journal of Travel & Travel Writing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Belfast
  • ethnonationalism
  • murals
  • Northern Ireland
  • Potemkin Village


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