Mat and I are beginning to put togethr our plans for our honeymmon, which we will take in February during my reading break. The honeymoon itself has been the source of some vexation for both of us, as we have very different ideas about where such a thing might take us. He would like to go to a resort and bake in the sun for a week; I would much prefer to do something more cultural.1
Obviously, I want to go to Scotland. I'm not so sure I want to go to Scotland in February, per se, but that's where I want to go again, and soon.
However, we have arranged a compromise: New Orleans. It has food, history, culture, music, and a nightlife. The flights for the week we want to go are relatively inexpensive, and there is just so much to do there. The historian in me is thrilled by the idea of haunted tours, cemetary tours, Garden District tours, French Quarter tours, walking tours, swamp tours, etc.
The humanist in me (and perhaps, dare I say it, the pinko Commie in me), though, has mixed feelings about two of the possible tour offerings: Plantation tours and Hurricane Katrina tours. The relationship between history and tourism is always an uncomfortable one, as it has to preclude learning at some point and move towards spectacle: "Come see where the levees were breached! Marvel at the hard working people of the Ninth Word as they attempt to rebuild thier lives!" or "Come see where B'rer Rabbit was written! Eat lunch in honest-to-goodness slave quarters!"
Which is not to say that these things are not interesting to me, nor that there isn't value in seeing them--it's more just the way that they are marketed that disturbs me. When history becomes spectacle, there is substantial danger in losing the significance of the events. Eating a meal in slave quarters, to me, validates a particular period and a particular lifestyle in a way that I'm not comfortable with.
1 I can spend approximately 30 minutes baking in the sun on a beach before I am bored out of my mind, and I can't imagine doing it for a whole week. Yes, you're right--"relax" is not in my vocabulary.