Dark tourism scholarship: a critical review

Philip Stone (Executive Director: Institute for Dark Tourism Research (iDTR), School of Sport, Tourism and The Outdoors, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston, UK)

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research

ISSN: 1750-6182

Publication date: 2 August 2013

Abstract

Purpose

Commonly referred to as dark tourism or thanatourism, the act of touristic travel to sites of or sites associated with death and disaster has gained significant attention with media imaginations and academic scholarship. However, despite a growing body of literature on the representation and tourist experience of deathscapes within the visitor economy, dark tourism as a field of study is still very much in its infancy. Moreover, questions remain of the academic origins of the dark tourism concept, as well as its contribution to the broader social scientific study of tourism and death education. Thus, the purpose of this invited review for this Special Issue on dark tourism, is to offer some critical insights into thanatourism scholarship.

Design/methodology/approach

This review paper critiques the emergence and current direction of dark tourism scholarship.

Findings

The author suggests that dark tourism as an academic field of study is where death education and tourism studies collide and, as such, can offer potentially fruitful research avenues within the broad realms of thanatology. Secondly, the author outlines how dark tourism as a conceptual typology has been subject to a sustained marketization process within academia over the past decade or so. Consequently, dark tourism is now a research brand in which scholars can locate a diverse range of death‐related and tourist experience studies. Finally, the author argues that the study of dark tourism is not simply a fascination with death or the macabre, but a multi‐disciplinary academic lens through which to scrutinise fundamental interrelationships of the contemporary commodification of death with the cultural condition of society.

Originality/value

This review paper scrutinises dark tourism scholarship and, subsequently, offers original insights into the potential role dark tourism may play in the public representation of death, as well as highlighting broader interrelationships dark tourism has with research into the social reality of death and the significant Other dead.

Keywords

Citation

Stone, P. (2013), "Dark tourism scholarship: a critical review", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 307-318. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCTHR-06-2013-0039

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.