Dark Tourism  

Tourism to Destinations with a Controversial Past: Issues and Problems in the Management of Dark Heritage Sites

Organizers: Rudi Hartmann, University of Colorado Denver and Dietrich Soyez, University of Cologne

In recent years, the tourism study field has been expanded to sites with a controversial past, and several different approaches have been developed in the study of such sites including ‘dark tourism’, ‘thanatourism’, ‘dissonance in the management of heritage sites’ and a ‘geography of memory’, with an close examination of landscapes of violence and tragedy.  Sites associated with death and disasters have become destinations for millions of visitors. War memorials and memorials of the Holocaust are among leading attractions in contemporary tourism. While Auschwitz, Dachau, the trenches of WWI in Flanders or the WWII beaches in the Normandy continue to receive a lot of attention in the public, other places of human tragedy are neglected or forgotten in time. This applies among others to many sites of a dark industrial heritage and places marked by labor conflicts. Geographers are not only invited to use a ‘dark tourism’ lens in a better understanding of locales created or perceived in the light of human violence, but also to reflect on appropriate, consciously contextualized management approaches of ‘resources in conflict’.  

Topics for papers can include:

  • Dissonance in the management of heritage sites with a controversial history
  • Dark industrial heritage
  • Tourism to memorial sites of the Holocaust
  • War and tourism: A complex relationship
  • Frontline Tourism: War memorials at former conflict and battlefield sites as well as past and current armistice lines and areas where clear tensions persist
  • Contributions to a geography of memory: Landscapes of violence and tragedy revisited
  • The ‘dark tourism’ lens:  A focus on death and disasters in contemporary tourism

If you are interested, please send your abstract to Rudi Hartmann rudi.hartmann@ucdenver.edu or Dietrich Soyez d.soyez@uni-koeln.de by March 13, 2015.