Stefanie Benjamin* - University of South Carolina
Tourism can serve as a unifying force in modern societies, bringing people together to define collectively the places, events, and symbols that are deemed important and somehow meaningful. Heritage sites are places that have the power to conjure up memories ranging in emotion of feeling pride, fear, or distaste. However, how do residents value heritage sites within their community and do past memories, experiences or historical events affect their decision? An examination investigating how Columbia, South Carolina residents wish to highlight or downplay specific heritage sites will hopefully create a sense of pride and help to understand the social and political landscape of their community. This study, utilizing the volunteer employed photography method, allows the researcher to literally see through the lens how the resident perceives and places value towards heritage sites. By giving each resident a disposable camera, it empowers them to take photographs of what they value and don't value in terms of heritage sites. The images collected are analyzed and discussed collectively between the researcher and resident to elicit emotions by reliving each photograph taken and explaining what influenced them to take the image. Through this discussion, the collective memory theory will be tested in order to understand if past memories, experiences, and oral stories that were possibly passed down through generations had any influence on how residents value heritage sites today.