dark tourism

Posted: May 7, 2012 in This is the Voice of Lefty Reason
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Dark tourism

I read that that the University of Central Lancashire is to establish a centre for the investigation of so called “dark tourism”.  These are tourist jollies to lovely destinations like Auschwitz and Ground Zero.  The undeniable fact that motorists slow down to rubber-neck accidents on the other side of the motorway seems a decent parallel.  Why do people feel compelled to visit such sites of horror and terror? There surely cannot be much fun to be had.  There must be something deeper going on in tourist psyches; are they seeking that awful American phrase, “closure”?  Are they morbidly fascinated?  Are they seeking some sort of meaning in their own lives?  Complex stuff; have people always been attracted to such places?  Is it somewhat like the criminal returning to the scene of the crime?  Perhaps these tourists feel a sense of responsibility for their fellow man’s inhumanity to others?  Of course, death as spectacle or even as “fun” has been with us forever, from Roman amphitheatres to  medieval hanging-shows, people have always, it seems, taken some sort of perverse pleasure in the demise of others.  The rise of dark tourism perhaps indicates a greater willingness to take on board mistakes of the past in an effort to improve the future; I hope so.  I am pretty convinced this type of tourism-voyeurism is not for me but I can understand the “spiritual” nature of such visits and that they, maybe, provide something of a balance to the demands of modern life.

  1. Nick Watson says:

    I think it is important that people do go to places like Auschwitz if only to comprehend the sheer horror and scale of this industrialised mass murder, events that some right-wing apologist historians claim never happened. I have been to Dachau and that was horrible enough, but I am not sure I could cope with Auschwitz, a place where birds do not sing or fly over allegedly.

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