For Discussion Forum 3, please address any of the questions below. As always: you are required to make a minimum of THREE (3) posts per module. At least one of your three posts should be your own original comment; at least one – should be a response to or comment on something another classmate has posted; the third post can be either your own original post or a comment on a classmate’s post.Keep in mind that your response should NOT simply be a summary of the assigned reading. A higher grade will be awarded to posts that demonstrate student’s ability to provide an original interpretation of the topic while also applying relevant concepts, issues, and theories covered in the module.
1. As you read in this module’s materials, in 2002, the radioactive “Exclusion Zone” surrounding the Chernobyl powerplant was deemed safe enough to permit guided tours of the area. In 2011 Chernobyl was officially declared a “tourist attraction” (one day round-trip tour from Kiev is $165 per person). What do you think about disaster tourism (or, for that matter, of any type of the so-called “thanatourism” or the “dark” tourism that takes travelers to concentration camps, dungeons, prisons, or graveyards)? Where does one draw the line between memorialization and commercialization? Should there be any clear guidelines on the ethics of marketing and promoting these sites? Make sure to draw parallels and cite materials from this module.
2. Many of this module’s texts (both literary and cinematic) focus on the fate of local residents and rescue workers who were directly exposed to radiation or evacuated from their homes in the aftermath of the explosion. Discuss any of the texts (poem, film, story) that left the deepest impression on you. How does this particular text (or texts) describe the way the Chernobyl catastrophe changed / upset / undermined people’s everyday lives?
3. Discuss the documentary Babushkas of Chernobyl. What stood out to you / surprised you the most? Why do you think these ladies insist on living on farms that the Ukrainian government and radiation scientists have deemed uninhabitable? How do they manage to get by, isolated, in an abandoned landscape guarded by soldiers, and rife with wild animals? How has the radiation affected them these past 3 decades? How is it possible that these women’s connection to their community stronger than “radiophobia” (fear of radiation)? Lastly, does it seem like the Ukrainian government is providing these women with sufficient support? And, to give you a slightly different perspective on “uprooting” one’s family, here is another story and a reaction from Chernoby’s survivors to the film from TED Talk (链接到外部网站。). How do you compare Tania’s story to the story of the film’s babushkas who wanted to have their dead bodies “smuggled” back into the “Exclusion zone” to make sure they are buried in their homeland?
I choose those two to write a simple peer review:
I am planning to answer question 2:
“The documentary Babushkas of Chernobyl spoke to me the most because of its direct and personable manner. The way they directly interview the women and are right there with them makes the audience think about what they must have gone through and what they still may be going through. I learned that about 100 people illegally returned to Chernobyl after the incident, and most of these are women. That number surprised me as I am sure they went through a lot being forced to evacuate, being affected by radiation, and traveling back to sneak back in. I wonder why it was mostly women? I was thinking maybe because they feel more sentimental value. This was their home that they grew up in, and they did not want to leave it. You would think that moving just 10 km away would not be a big change to them, but this was and it was important for them to go back. One of the women being interviewed spoke about how yes she came back alone and did not have anyone with her. This came as a surprise to some I am sure, but I think it may have happened this way because of her sentimental value, and others may not find it as important. After all, they all know the risks. When they tested their home for radiation it was above 500 mSv. This is not a safe level whatsoever. The women did not care. They actually seemed surprised when they heard it was at this level, but what did they expect? The radiation has multiple effects and they could even have the possibility of developing thyroid cancer. Not to mention how difficult it would be to live in a deserted place. They do not have as many hands to help cook, clean, grow food, etc. Radiation has to have some effect on those things as well.In addition, now that tours go through the area the women living there have to be affected in one way or another. Through all the risks and struggles that are present with returning to Chernobyl after the nuclear meltdown, they still want to call the area their home.
The people who evacuated and did not return, however, still encountered high radiation levels. The plant workers and firefighters at the time were affected by 5000 times the amount of radiation one is supposed to within a year. Other people who evacuated felt Ukraine had changed after the incident and moved to the US. These things shocked me and I was very interested reading through how each person was individually effected. “
“I am answering question #1:
I believe that it is not a necessarily bad thing to have disasters as “tourist attractions.” I believe that it would be hard to have such a big disaster occur throughout our history and not have tourist who want to come see the site that they have heard many things about. However with that being said, I do believe that there should be some restrictions.
I believe there is a fine line between what is considered memorialization and commercialization. I believe the line is if they are making money. I believe that if they truly want to remember the people who lost their lives and the different consequences that resulted from the workers choosing not to follow the safety regulations, then they should be able to do that, but they should do it without making money off of it. They should have the “Exclusion Zone” tours be free and they should focus on the wrong doings of the plant and the government. I believe that this tours could be a reminder of how the government must be as transparent as possible, because there are a lot of negative consequences that can come from the government not being transparent.
I believe that there should be clear guidelines on the ethics of marketing and promotion of these sites. I don’t believe that they should be able to market these sites at all through different flyers, posters, or coupon deals. I believe that the only promotion that should be allowed to take place for thanatourism sites should just be a website that states what type of tours there are. I don’t think they should be allowed to say phrases like “come see this.”
After watching the films and reading the history and stories behind the explosion, I think they need to be careful to not make this too commercialized. The thing that most influenced my thoughts on if the tourism should be allowed and on the marketing guidelines was the poem, within the personal narratives, called “They did not Register Us.” This made me really think about how the people who did lose their lives should be remembered, and it should be a reminder of the consequences that can come if people don’t follow the safety regulations or if the government does not follow emergency procedures the correct way.”