A Theoretical Epilogue to the Tourist Guide to the Bakken

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working pretty intensively on revising my Tourist Guide to the Bakken Oil Patch for publication. The section that needed the most work was the final chapter which was probably both half-baked and somewhat unaccessible to the average reader. This is probably not the final draft of this section, but it is a major step closer to making it more fluid and more accessible. Here’s a link to the original draft.

I attempt to weave together four related concepts: 

1. Tourism as a product of and as a producer of modernity. In a post last week, I presented my first efforts to emphasize more explicitly the role of oil in both the creation of the middle class and tourism.

2. Landscapes and Taskscapes. In this section, I argue that the remarkable dynamism of the Bakken has produced particular ephemeral traces of movement in the landscape. The concept of taskscape provides a useful way to understand dense network of traces left across the Bakken landscape.

3. Industrial Tourism offers a model to understand taskscapes shaped by industrial activities and brings together the experience of the tourist and the worker in a single space. The recent trend toward more subversive forms of tourism (toxic tourism, abandonment porn, urban infiltrations, “poorism”) that explore industrial sites in either critical or illegal ways demonstrates how contemporary industrial tourists could twist the goals of industrial to consider the complex legacy of industrial practices. 

4. Industrial Archaeology and Heritage. Finally, industrial archaeology has contributed to the rise of industrial heritage which has both celebrated a shared, modern industrial past, as well as offered an opportunity for historical reflection and critique. 

Any and all comments would be greatly appreciated.

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