Emotions and critical thinking at a dark heritage site: investigating visitors’ reactions to a First World War museum in Slovenia

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This paper explores the connection between memory study theories (antagonistic, cosmopolitan, and agonistic) and emotions in a dark heritage site. It does so by investigating Italian and Slovene visitors’ emotional reactions to the permanent exhibition of the Kobarid Museum. The museum is located in a dark heritage site in Slovenia that was the epicenter of a series of bloody conflicts during the First World War. Relying on a cosmopolitan narrative, the museum promotes a clear antiwar message, aiming to elicit emotional responses such as empathy and compassion for the victims to connect with visitors. However, our analysis brings to light antagonistic emotions among Italian and Slovene visitors, raising important issues concerning the role of emotions and multiperspectivity in dark heritage sites. Hence, we discuss how these emotions could instead promote critical thinking, self-reflection, and cross-national dialogue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-280
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Heritage Tourism
Issue number3
Early online date17 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was part of a wider EU-funded project entitled Unsettling Remembering and Social Cohesion in Transnational Europe-UNREST [H2020-EU3.6 (Project ID 693523)]. Daniela De Angeli?s research received further funding from CAMERA, the RCUK Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications (EP/M023281/1). The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on previous drafts. They also wish to thank Dr. Marianna Deganutti who, as co-researcher on the UNREST project, carried out work on the Kobarid museum and was co-responsible (together with Prof. Anna Bull), for the interviews with the museum curators.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Dark heritage
  • emotion
  • war
  • museum
  • memory
  • empathy


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