Graduate Research Award: Laura Fresco
SIS/MA '11, International Communication
The Madrid train bombings of March 2004 impacted Fresco not as a traveler, but as a student of international relations, Spanish, and anthropology, especially as memorials to the tragedy's victims sprouted up in the Atocha train station where the bombings occurred. How do these memorials affect tourism, and the sense of nationalism among the Spanish? "Tourist experiences have been ignored ... thus there is no evidence as to what motivates individuals to produce and orchestrate nationalism through tourist attractions, such as the Madrid Atocha train memorial," Fresco observes. "Little is written on the connection between the rhetoric of the production and performance of nationalism through memorials (on the ground and online) and its connection to tourism literature."
In order to bridge this gap, Fresco will use her Graduate Research Award for research for her master's thesis, spending two weeks in Madrid, conducting interviews among Spanish and foreign nationals about their motives for visiting the memorial, what is being communicated to them through these visits, and the importance of the commemoration to them. She intends to use this case study to form the basis of her work, arguing "that memorials reflect the ways in which we construct and perform acts of nationalism."