America’s Heart of Hearts Tour
An alternative tour of America, focusing on ordinary Midwestern militarism, designed for up-and-coming Chinese tourists as part of Dan S. Wang and Stephanie Rothenberg’s The Journey West.
Rothenberg explains, “Riffing on the classic ancient Chinese tale Journey To The West about a rebellious monk who journeys west to India in the quest for knowledge, the project is the creation of a functioning travel agency located in the heart of Beijing that sells alternative tours of the United States. The tours we offer created by a variety of individuals (and that actually do exist) engage a critical dialogue around cultural representation, historical memory and environmentalism within the economy of global tourism.”
While the global reach of the United States military is well-known, the ways it has shaped the interior geography of the country is more obscure—even to many Americans. Get a fresh perspective on the Heartland by touring the domestic sites that helped to produce America’s military might, and you may catch a glimpse of the nation’s future.
The centerpiece of your four day/three night stay in the Heartland states of Missouri and Illinois will be the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, a fascinating and lovely natural area created on a former US Army ammunition plant. A private defense contractor still uses the refuge to manufacture munitions, and the thorough clean-up of contamination stemming from these and other industrial operations is ongoing. Crab Orchard boasts recreation facilities for boating, hunting, fishing, hiking and wildlife observation. Crab Orchard will be your base for day trips into other military sites in scenic southern Illinois, including civil war sites, the ruins of a World War II prisoner of war facility, and a military boot camp for convicts. You’ll fly into and out of St. Louis, affording side trips to the Museum of Westward Expansion, Scott Air Force Base and the corporate headquarters of Monsanto, the agribusiness giant whose herbicide Agent Orange was used as a weapon in the Vietnam War.
Beijing, China – Homeshop, 2011
Sarah Kanouse, “America’s Heart of Hearts Tour,” in Dan S. Wang and Stephanie Rothenberg’s “The Journey West,” site-specific intervention in Beijing, China, 2011