'Dark Tourism' in Comparative Perspective: Sites of Suffering, Sites of Memory

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Modern Languages and Cultures

Abstract

This project explores, in comparative perspective, the relationship between memory, place, cultural heritage, colonialism and public understandings of suffering and imprisonment. Although former places of suffering and detention have recently been developed into museums, hotels, memorials, conference centres and other commercial or heritage buildings across the world, there has been very little academic research which focuses on the public reception of these buildings; the part they play in memorialising and interpreting 'difficult' pasts; or their commercial and economic importance to the heritage and museum industry. The research offers a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach to the field of dark tourism, challenging any previous perception of the field's Anglophone biases. It focuses in particular on former sites of suffering, incarceration and genocide, and explores the increasing engagement with these locations by the heritage industry. The research will draw on a broad range of disciplinary expertise - history, sociology, anthropology, comparative cultural studies, museum studies - in France and the UK to interrogate existing assumptions and methodologies in studies of 'dark tourism', to challenge the alinguistic tendencies of previous approaches, and to generate new comparative and cross-cultural insights. The project will, through an initial review of existing literature, seek to establish a common framework of meaning which captures the similarities but also the distinctiveness of the evolution of theory around 'dark tourism' in France and the UK. It will then develop two specific strands of activity relating to: (i) cultures of penal and convict incarceration in France, the UK, Tasmania, and New Caledonia, and (ii) recent museums and memorials relating to the Holocaust and the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda. This approach will permit analyses of the intersections of dark tourism and heritage in a range of Anglophone and Francophone contexts, and will allow a focus - in a workshop and conference, as well as in a range of publications for academic and professional audiences - on the possibilities in the field of comparative methodologies and transnational understandings.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Research has focused on the translatability of the concept of 'dark tourism', especially across Francophone and Anglophone contexts. We have explored 'dark tourism' practices at a range of penal sites, most notably in Australia and New Caledonia. This research has permitted: (i) comparison at cognate sites, associated with the Holocaust and genocide; (ii) development of approaches that encourage the identification of intersectional memory practices and the existence of historical palimpsests (linking, for example, penal heritage and slavery); and (iii) discussion with heritage professionals about next steps with these findings.
Exploitation Route A briefing paper is in development with a heritage consultant and colleagues at Canterbury Christ Church University about the development of prison sites and the ethics of penal heritage. This will allow us to take forward our findings with a range of heritage professionals (including NML). Work also intersects with more recently funded AHRC projects and a number of GCRF initiaitves. The latter will allow the identification and development of further international perspectives.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description Collaboration with Christ Church Canterbury University on development of acquired HMP Canterbury site
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description British Museum 
Organisation British Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Contributed to British Museum exhibition on Toussaint Louverture
Collaborator Contribution Provided academic advice on exhibit development; chaired public event relating to exhibition.
Impact Contribution to exhibit development.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Canterbury Christ Church University 
Organisation Canterbury Christ Church University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration in the area of penal heritage.
Collaborator Contribution Hosting workshop, January 2018, relating to AHRC/LABEX award on penal heritage and artistic creativity.
Impact Workshop, January 2018
Start Year 2017
 
Description 'Transcultural memories of the bagne' talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 'Transcultural memories of the bagne: the Mediterranean in global penal heritage', Mediterranean Transcultural memories: Visualising Mediterranean Port Cities, 1850 to the present, IMLR, University of London, May 2017 [keynote paper]
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Lecture (Lisbon) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lecture on project at Museum of Resistance and Liberation, Lisbon
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Liverpool workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Concluding workshop of project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://passes-present.eu/en/final-conference-project-dark-tourism-43213
 
Description Project workshop (Paris) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project workshop, Memorial de la Shoah, Paris
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016