It begins with the bombs: operationalizing violence at a Vietnamese dark tourism site

Jamie Gillen

This article presents the operationalization of violence in dark tourism through repeated visits to a prominent state-operated tourist site in southern Vietnam called the Cu Chi tunnels complex. I argue that this operationalization occurs because dark tourism plays on the violent performances of the extraordinary and every day. In making this argument, I encourage both a recuperation of the exceptional aspects of the dark tourism experience and a continued appreciation of dark tourism’s routine characteristics. A performative relationship between the remarkable and the familiar brings the operationalization of violence more closely into conversation with dark tourism in Asia, a field and a region more attuned to memorialization and commemoration than with tourist enactments of violence.

Keywords: dark tourism, operationalization, performance, Vietnam, violence, war