The online world, like the real one, can be a dark place. How can public historians responsibly engage with difficult subjects? Some of the most visited historic places are sites of mass death and violence. What ethical guidelines should we follow?
What about Ghost Tours? Torture museums?
For an academic introduction to the idea of dark history tourism and the moral and intellectual questions surrounding it, see: Richard Sharpley, “Shedding Light on Dark Tourism: An Introduction,” in Richard Sharpley and Philip R. Stone eds. The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism (Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications, 2009), 3-22. (Link through Owl).
Then have a look through Derek Dalton, Dark Tourism and Crime (2017). Read the introduction and choose a section that interests you. We can discuss in class. (Access online through the library).
“Follow the North Star” in an interesting and controversial approach to teaching the history of slavery at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, in Fishers, Indiana.
The Jack the Ripper Museum controversy. Originally pitched as a museum to commemorate women in the East End of London, England, the institution came under fire for an apparent bait and switch, and the glorification of violence against women. There were numerous calls for the museum to be closed down. The museum also ran a Halloween event in 2015 which sparked further protests.
In response to the controversy, a group is pushing to create an East End Women’s Museum, and suggest deeper implications of Jack the Ripper tourism.
An opinion piece from Robert Reid, at National Geographic, “Is ‘Dark Tourism’ OK?” (2016).
There are already Dark Tourism sites emerging related to Covid-19.
Finally, have a look at Linda Mussell’s discussion of Kingston Penitentiary’s new life as a tourist destination and Kat MacDonald’s discussion of these issues on her blog.