Lithuania, Kaunas

Atomic Tourism: A Case Study of Place Identity

when 15 July 2019 - 2 August 2019
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 6 EC
fee EUR 600

It is a unique summer programme, allowing its students to see from up close and actively participate in the process of one city redefining its place identity. The three-week course will combine lectures by experts in the fields of intercultural education, creative industries, cultural identity, Soviet and Post-Soviet identity, case study and field projects carried out in collaboration with the local community. Not only the students will learn new things and skills, but make an actual contribution developing a site-specific and inclusive project! Visaginas is a unique phenomenon in the context of Lithuania, in terms of its history, ethnic composition and challenges to its identity. It is also located in the picturesque part of Lithuania, our “lake district”, and surrounded by lush forests and lakes. Just a bit of the background: Visaginas is a satellite town of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. This monoindustrial town was built in the 70s, constructing one of the most powerful nuclear power plants in the world at that time. Its construction was carried out by people that arrived here from all over the Soviet Union, including Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other Soviet states. As a result, Lithuanians comprise only ~18% of inhabitants, with the majority of residents being of Russian nationality (over 50 %). The town has been facing a challenge of redefining its identity after decision was made to close the Nuclear Power Plant (the first reactor block was closed in 2004, the second one – in 2009). With the town trying to turn from monoindustrial economy to a cultural tourism destination, it has to face many new and already existing challenges: proper representation of multi-ethnic cultural identities, the role of commodification and self-exoticizing, power relations, community engagement. Dominant official and local discourses, shaping politics of identity and memory in Lithuania, because as a post-soviet country, it tends to eliminate those parts of memory and identity which refer to the Soviet past.
These dominant discourses create obstacles performing authentic multi-ethnic identities in Visaginas, while also creating place identity to develop socialist heritage tourism.

Course leader

Agnė Poderytė (bsu@vdu.lt)

Target group

BA and MA students of sociology, political sciences, education anthropology, communication studies, arts, cultural studies, creative industry studies, tourism management.

Course aim

To deepen the knowledge of post-soviet identity and nuclear tourism while observing and participating in interactive educational/cultural activities in Visaginas carried out in collaboration with the local community combining learning with rich intercultural experience.

Fee info

EUR 600: Early bird price. From May 1st: 650