Participants wanted for panel on tour guiding at ACHS conference, August 2020, London

Alena Pfoser (Loughborough University) and Sabine Stach (German Historical Institute Warsaw) are organising a panel on memory politics and geopolitical encounters in guided tours for the Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference in London, 26-30 August 2020. We are currently looking for one more panelist to contribute to the panel. If you’re interested, please contact us as soon as possible (and by 1 October the latest): or

We look forward to hearing from you!

Panel description: Memory production and the geopolitics of international tourism encounters in guided city tours 

Guided city tours are a popular and increasingly diversified form of communicating and producing urban heritage. Tour guides as cultural intermediaries between the visitors and the city work to re-enchant the urban fabric by telling stories about past and present urban life and culture. While tour guiding hasn’t been a central focus in heritage studies, there is a significant body of work on tour guides in tourism studies that explores the roles and communicative practices of guides (e.g Cohen 1985, Macdonald 2006, Salazar 2012, Wynn 2012). Increasingly scholars have looked not only at the creation of particular interpretative frameworks and the enactment of authority by guides but also the interrelations of guides with their (actual and imagined) audiences and the material environment of the city (Macdonald 2006, Wynn 2012). Tour guide narratives emerge in direct contact with audiences, are often adjusted to the audience’s backgrounds, existing knowledge and expectations and involve situational negotiations between guides and audiences.

This panel looks more closely at the processes of producing heritage in guided tours, situating the analysis of tour guides narratives and interactions in relation to wider geopolitical discourses (Gillen and Mostafanezhad 2019, Rowen 2016) and in the context of the transnational production and negotiation of memory and heritage (Pfoser and Keightley 2019). While tour guiding is often perceived as not political – not least by the guides and the tourism industry –  knowledge and relations produced in guided tours can be conceived as a multiscalar experiences that reproduce, refract or challenge existing discourses and ideologies about places, people and their past and thus have politically relevant outcomes. How is heritage negotiated in transnational encounters between tour guides and tourists? How does the communication of heritage in international tourism relate to local and national memory politics? What are the (geo)political consequences of heritage communication for present identities and relations between people?

This panel seeks to address these questions through conceptual and empirical analyses. Existing papers address the communication of communism tours in Poland and their relation to local memory and national history politics and the everyday geopolitics of guiding Russians through post-Soviet cities.