Gruesome suffering or heroic battleground

While reading the articles, I could not help the thoughts of what truly is dark tourism from running through my mind. Although most of the authors cited some form of what they either claimed to be dark tourism, or at minimum argued against others that saw it that way, the article that really peaked my interest was¬†Numinous Objects by Rachel P. Maines and James J. Glynn. They brought up a couple of sites, though not necessarily in the exact context of dark tourism, such as Gettysburg. Although the clear mentality of Gettysburg as a battle for the North makes it a very different site than say Alcatraz, I couldn’t help but see a number of similarities. One, in both places people suffered and died. Two, I can hardly see anyone “wanting” to be involved in such an endeavor. Three, ¬†they both can be said, as can any of the examples brought up in the articles, to have at least a hint of dark tourism involved with the location. Four, they can be viewed in different ways by the public.

Maines and Glynn say of Gettysburg, “Gettysburg and Atlanta for northerners are inspired by victories at great cost; for southern whites they are haunted by a specter of bitter and humiliating defeat.” (14) The United States’ Park Service has attempted multiple ways to push the natural beauty of the island of Alcatraz rather than its seedy inmates backgrounds. ( Carolyn Strange, and Michael Kempa. 2003. “Shades of dark tourism:Alcatraz and Robben Island”. Annals of Tourism Research. 30 (2): 386-405.) With these ideas in mind is it just a place of dark tourism or is it that the public simply wants to see it that way. Gettysburg is certainly not the iconic poster child for dark tourism, but could it be if it were presented or thought about differently? I think it is less about dark tourism and more about the morbidity of the human mind when forced to reflect on its own mortality. That being said, I think dark tourism, although it certainly has the capability of being based in part by supply, is more of a demand driven ideal.


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