Protests from a Tourist’s Perspective
From a powerful article one of my housemates wrote about observing Ukraine from a tourist’s perspective:
This week marked a devastating turn of events in Ukraine—thousands have been injured and more than twenty have died as the government brutally cracked down on protesters. Fires rage all around Independence Square, Molotov cocktails fly through the air, and police shower protesters with rubber bullets and live ammunition. Seeing so much destruction in such a beautiful city turns my stomach in knots.
These images of fire, violence, and revolution in a city five thousand miles away should, theoretically, not affect me so much. After all, I spent only a few days wandering through the touristy parts of Kiev, and the extreme cold made it nearly impossible to be outside for more than 20 minutes at a time.
Tourists, including me, can only scratch the surface of a place. There’s something campy and inauthentic about being a tourist that makes it impossible to experience the “true” version of a city or country.
It’s my experience, though, that even tourists can make an authentic connection to a place. My conception of the places I visit is not derived from textbooks or newspapers—it’s gained from talking, tasting, seeing, and breathing.
Watching revolutions unfold makes it difficult to maintain an idyllic understanding of these cities. It’s been jarring to have my mental image of these places shattered.
As more and more images of bloody faces and flaming barricades stream in from Kiev, it seems impossible see an end to the violence. I remember feelings of fear and sadness while watching coverage of the Gezi Park protests. Somehow, though, the violence waned, and it eventually appeared as though protests hadn’t happened.
I can only hope that the violent crackdown of the Ukrainian government against its own people will end soon. Even though it’s disorienting to see such a different image of a city, I hope that when the demonstrations subside, visual reminders of the chaos and violence are not too quickly swept away.
You can read Colleen’s whole piece here, along with lots of blog posts about traveling in Istanbul, Alanya,
Azerbaijan , Bulgaria , Cyprus , Georgian Republic , Greece , Hungary , Romania , Russia , Spain , Turkey , and Ukraine.
The CIA reclassified many of my primary sources as soon as I requested them.
Diplomatic History, University of Queensland