2 thoughts on “Describing Dark Tourism: What is it, and what does it do?

  1. Zoe Alker

    I think one issue,as Barton and Brown have suggested, is that the portrayal of crime and punishment is bound up with interlinked systems of representation that span across heritage, news, media and popular history which often shift focus on to the more lurid or sensational aspects of crime history in the pursuit of commercial gain. This is all the more pressing for museums which are receiving increasingly less funding from the current government. Perhaps then academics could and should collaborate with museums to forge new ways of educating museum visitors based on their research. So for instance, not just concentrating on the offence and what this might tell us about the morality of the prisoner, but what social and economic factors led to their criminality and what part the law played in punishing them.

  2. Anthony Rhys

    I think you are right in questioning putting Auschwitz and Anne Frank’s house under the same umbrella as, for example, Bodmin Gaol for a number of reasons. I think the term ‘dark tourism’ perhaps needs to be questioned as a term.
    As a ‘layperson’ visiting Anne Frank’s House was a profound experience for me and was certainly not done out of any morbid fascination with that history but a profound respect for it- I also saw on the same day an installation that questioned how the Dutch reacted to the rounding up of the Jews- a very emotional experience that questioned the black and white distinction of good and evil that we sometimes see in history.
    I also went to Bodmin Gaol last summer and have to commend the private individuals who have funded work there and run the site themselves. Yes the displays were sometimes perhaps to shock and there was a national element to many displays that often pushed aside local social and individual narratives- and yes it did sometimes come down to a shock/scary element but still it is there and open to the public still, rather than demolished and forgotten.
    Personally I find the presentation of history at stately homes and castles to be more offensive as they often completely ignore the lives of the majority of people who lived in an area to focus on the ‘great and good’ and expensive artefacts. There is often little questioning of how the wealth was accrued or what was done with it.
    Give me a prison, workhouse or coal mine to visit any day. I prefer to hear about the history of real people than the lords, ladies and marquesses of this world. Hopefully as the sector increases it will become better at presenting its rich history to the public.

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