Through the Gaze of Morbidity and Consumption: Comments on Dark Tourism in Southeast Asia

Through the Gaze of Morbidity and Consumption: Comments on Dark Tourism in Southeast Asia

Bintang Handayani (Independent Researcher, Indonesia), Hugues Seraphin (The University of Winchester, UK) and Maximiliano Korstanje (University of Palermo, Argentina)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7393-7.ch003
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The chapter theorizes the rise of dark tourism in Southeast destinations. This represents an unexplored segment for the specialized literature that devotes its efforts in studying Western study cases. There were two important findings. Firstly, and most importantly, dark tourism gives an ideological explanation to the Cold War that sometimes singles out the history of colonialism, the rise of the US as a superpower, and the interests of the Soviet Union. Essentially in consonance with Tzanelli, Sather Wagstaff, and Guidotti Hernandez, the authors hold the thesis that the heritage of dark tourism serves an ideological instrument of power, which is orchestrated by a ruling elite to promote a distorted version of history.
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Without any doubt, dark tourism has become in a buzzword over the recent decades; in many cases resulting in a fresh alternative for devastated areas or cites which faced natural disasters (Rittichainuwat 2008), but in others revitalizing the economies through the articulation of heritage consumption. In fact, after disasters or catastrophes take hit, tourism helps locals in the recovery timeframe as well as in the arrival of foreigner investors to spend fresh quotas of money (Strange & Kempa, 2003; Stone & Sharpley 2008; Hartmann 2014). Phillip Stone (2012) defines dark tourism as an anthropological attempt to domesticate death, in a secular culture. While gazing dark tourism exhibitions, visitors confront with their own finitude, imagining their own death. In this vein, Duncan Light (2017) exerts a seminal review of the different voices, theories and approaches showing some contradictions in the specialized literature. His academic paper summarizes the outcome of published papers and books from 1996 to 2016. In perspective, Light identifies 6 key topics revolving around dark tourism literature such as: definition of concepts, ethical concerns, the political dimension of dark tourism, the nature of demand and offering, and the epistemology of dark tourism. What is clearly explained, as Light puts it, there are an increasing interest for scholars and policy makers for this niche, while it resulted in an academical chaos and misunderstanding of the phenomena, marked by a great dispersion and knowledge fragmentation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Imperialism: It should be defined as the political, economic and cultural project tended to index non-western economies to Europe and the interests of European powers.

Dark Tourism: It refers to a new segment of tourists who visit spaces of mass death or destruction.

Globalization: It is the expanse movement that connects cultures, peoples in different dimensions.

Ideology: It is a set of normative beliefs which operates discursively alienating people from reality.

Heritage: It is understood as the legacy of cultural and artifact inheritance which conforms the identity of a group.

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