On 21 October 2020, Dr Magdalena Banaszkiewicz from Jagellonian University in Krakow presented a webinar in our CRESIDA seminar series titled ‘Between interpretation and leadership: The Chernobyl Exclusion zone in guides narrative’. The webinar is now available to view below.
This webinar presents the problem of interpretation of the heritage of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone by local guides. The presentation is the result of a research project (funded by a grant from the National Science Centre, No 2016/23/D/HS3/01960) aimed at investigating what influences the style of guided tours in the CEZ and, consequently, presenting the heritage to tourists. The empirical material collected during interviews and participatory observation was analyzed in relation to the constructivist paradigm of heritage interpretation. The participatory experiences of visiting heritage sites offer visitors the opportunity to get personally involved and reflect on the past and require specific leadership and group management skills from the interpreters. The most important challenge the tour guides in the Zone are faced with is to balance the safety of the visitors with the narrative that is the interpretation of heritage. Importantly, safety not only structures the way of the tour, but is also a fundamental motive for universalizing the guides’ narratives and this is what interpretive strategies revolve around.