Commemorative Surrogation and the American South's Changing Heritage Landscape

Owen Dwyer, David Butler, Perry Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The past two decades have witnessed momentous changes on the American South's heritage landscape. First, and most dramatically, ascendant civil rights museums have established themselves as bona fide heritage attractions. Second, and more subtly, a nascent movement on the part of plantation house museums is afoot to engage with the lives and labour of enslaved African Americans. The two trends are interrelated and the result is a regional heritage landscape that is more attuned to the dynamics of racial oppression than at any time in the past. Geographers and other tourism researchers have begun to document and analyse these changes, seeking to better understand the motives and implications that are reworking the region's heritage scene. The task remains, however, to develop a more nuanced understanding of audience reactions to the evolving content of southern heritage tourism. Drawn from two extent surveys of visitors to civil rights museums and a plantation museum, this article uses the concept of commemorative surrogation to interpret audience evaluations in order to better understand visitors' assessment of the changing landscape of southern heritage tourism. Results of the analysis suggest that whereas concerns over deficient surrogation are held by visitors at both civil rights and plantation museums, charges of excessive surrogation are limited to civil rights museums. The implication for the cultural landscape is a potentially revived, searching assessment of the region's past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-443
Number of pages20
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • African American
  • American South
  • civil rights
  • commemoration
  • heritage tourism
  • landscape
  • monument
  • museum
  • plantation
  • surrogation


Dive into the research topics of 'Commemorative Surrogation and the American South's Changing Heritage Landscape'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this