Published on November 13, 2007
Dark Tourism: Part of the human condition is the grim fascination with horror and atrocity. Dark Tourism Jack the Ripper’s first Victim – London, Whitechapel's Buck's Row just before four in the morning Friday, August 31, 1888 Not a new phenomenon: Not a new phenomenon Visiting sites connected with death:- e.g. murder & death sites, battlefields, cemeteries & homes of dead celebrities has been and still is a significant part of tourist experiences all over the world. Slide3: Geoffrey Chaucer’s (1342-1400) Canterbury Tales arose from the journey of a group of people to the death site of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Slide4: The Bayeux Tapestry, measuring over 230 feet long and 20 inches wide, was a commemoration of the Norman invasion of England and the events leading up to it which culminated in the death of King Harold on Christmas day in 1066 Slide5: The Black Death, 1348 which led to the untimely death of between 25-50% of Europe’s population - all have been the subject of tourist visits for centuries. 20th Century: 20th Century The industrialisation of death. Death happens on a scale rarely seen in human history. In many societies, the dead are buried in sites designated for this purpose to leave a permanent remembrance to those who wish to visit. : In many societies, the dead are buried in sites designated for this purpose to leave a permanent remembrance to those who wish to visit. Pyramids in Egypt Abraham Lincoln Memorial: Abraham Lincoln Memorial Nelson’s Column: Nelson’s Column Tragedy sells; - be it copy for newspapers, magazines, books, radio or television programmes.: Tragedy sells; - be it copy for newspapers, magazines, books, radio or television programmes. Media presentation of the event, circumstances and smallest details surrounding the event complete with theories, eye-witness testimonies and expert analysis: Media presentation of the event, circumstances and smallest details surrounding the event complete with theories, eye-witness testimonies and expert analysis Death has become a commodity Lockerbie Air Disaster, Dec 21st 1988: Lockerbie Air Disaster, Dec 21st 1988 Pan Am flight 103 exploded and pieces of the plane fell onto the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 259 people on the plane and 11 people on the ground. The nose of Pan Am 103 has become the symbol of the crash It landed on the north of a churchyard at Tundergarth, just outside Lockerbie Town. The body of the pilots and a stewardess was found inside. The stewardess still had a pulse when first found, but she was dead a few minutes later. Tourists now visit the site of the crash Part of a commoditised tourist experience : Part of a commoditised tourist experience The advent of global media: The advent of global media We experience the effects of conflict on a daily basis. Now apparently closer to us in space & time Many people decide to visit these places of death and disaster when the opportunity presents itself. Tourism Organisations: Tourism Organisations National and regional tourism bodies, voluntary groups and commercial businesses Provide the services & facilities to promote, transport and service the visitor at these tourism destinations of ‘celebrated’ sites. Hence the advent of dark tourism. Dilemma: Dilemma What is the appropriate chronological distance between the event and the arrival of visitors at the site? Acceptable to visit death sites immediately following the event to show respect . What takes longer to be acceptable is the creation of a ‘touristic’ experience - interpretation for consumption by tour groups. Examples where interpretation takes place today: Examples where interpretation takes place today Concentration camps Battle sites of the First World War Pearl Harbour Hiroshima Bridge of the River Kwai Changi Gaol in Singapore. Individual deaths: Individual deaths Part of the tourism infrastructure in their respective locations John F Kennedy Marilyn Monroe Serial killers (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson) and their victims (Sharon Tate) Dark Tourism definition - Lennon J and Foley M (2000) : Dark Tourism definition - Lennon J and Foley M (2000) Events that have taken place within the memories of those still alive to validate them. Visits to the site suggest elements of anxiety and doubt ‘Commodification of anxiety’ is brought into question (merchandising and revenue generation) Visitor Types: Visitor Types Specialist – seeking the location of their relatives or friends sufferings or pursuing a special concern e.g. the technology of tank warfare Serendipity - on the itinerary of the tour company or who happen to be in the area. Merchandising is important, ‘impulse purchase’ becomes central to the product involved. Further Examples: Further Examples Dark Sites of concentration camps estimated numbers of visitors: Dark Sites of concentration camps estimated numbers of visitors Auschwitz (Poland) 750,000 Dachau (Germany) 900,000 Majdanek (Poland) 300,000 (Source: Young 1993) Slide27: ‘Not only is the relevant material vast and intractable; it exercises a subtle, corrupting fascination. Bending too fixedly over hideousness, one feels queerly drawn. In some strange way the horror flatters attention ….I am not sure whether anyone, however scrupulous, who spends time and imaginable resources on these dark places can, or indeed, ought to leave them personally intact.’ (Steiner, 1971, pp30-31) Hiroshima The atomic bomb, 8:15 am Aug 6, 1945: Hiroshima The atomic bomb, 8:15 am Aug 6, 1945 45 000 died on the first day and a further 19 000 during the subsequent four months. Melted Sake Bottles Hiroshima: Hiroshima Student Uniform Akio Tsukuda (13 at the time) was engaged in fire prevention work about 800 meters from the hypocenter. His father found his school uniform hanging on a branch of a tree on August 8, 1945. His body was not found Enola Gay: Enola Gay Aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese City of Hiroshima. Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. Whose history is interpreted?: Whose history is interpreted? Ethical dilemma for the tourist professional is whose viewpoint is used for the interpretation - viewpoints do change over time. The civil rights movements in America and the troubles in Northern Ireland have all been re-appraised recently. The Future of Dark Tourism: The Future of Dark Tourism Anniversaries of events at 5 and 10 years have significance for participants and the media. The 80th anniversary of the First World War, the 50th anniversary of the ‘D-day’ landings Future: Future Questions of taste and sanctity. Trips to Bucharest based upon Ceausescu’s former palace and travel using his vehicles. The following of the final route of Princess Diana in a black Mercedes S-class through the streets of Paris. The opening of Governmental and commercial sites in New Mexico where once weapons of mass destruction were contained coining the phrase ‘atomic tourism’ Final viewpoint: Final viewpoint How long will it be before all types of suffering is commodified for touristic consumption – who will define the boundaries of good and bad taste?