Disaster Tourism: Fetishizing Loss as Art in the Covid Marketplace

Suzanne Seriff (The University of Texas, Austin)

This paper builds on a 2021 AFS double panel on “Folk Arts in the Time of Covid” to examine an under-theorized aspect of what folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett refers to as “anticipatory heritage.” Where last year’s panel focused on the archivization and exhibition of Covid-themed arts, this paper shines a light on the uncomfortable underbelly of such heritage production—their circulation in an ephemeral global marketplace. From ETSY entries, to internet websites, to museum shops, to weekend folk art markets, these “pop up” destinations, I propose, become the necessary locus for a new kind of “disaster tourism” whose voyeuristic destination is reached only through its artistic representation.

Part of 04-11 Liminal and Transgressive Spaces, Friday, October 14, 8:30 am–10:00 am