Dark Tourism and ‘Painful Pasts’ in Africa: Concepts, Contexts, and Challenges

Stone, Philip orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9632-1364 (2023) Dark Tourism and ‘Painful Pasts’ in Africa: Concepts, Contexts, and Challenges. In: Cultural Heritage and Tourism in Africa. Routledge. ISBN 9780367722241

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Official URL: https://works.bepress.com/philip_stone/157/


Our significant dead wander amongst touristic landscapes where the noteworthy deceased are memorialised, and memories orchestrated by a visitor economy that trades on tragedy. It is here that ‘dark tourism,’ as visits to sites of death or the macabre, shines a critical light on fundamental interrelationships between the notable dead and contemporary society. In Africa, with a history of ‘painful pasts,’ there are an abundance of potential dark tourism sites. Yet, there has been limited attempt to examine the nature, scope, and consequences of dark tourism within pan-African perspectives. The purpose of my chapter, therefore, is to set a comprehensive typology that offers a thematic overview of dark tourism in Africa. In doing so, I propose a taxonomic lens to locate dark tourism themes idiosyncratic to Africa. These themes include genocide, warfare and terrorism, ritual murders, assassinations, crime, slavery-heritage, racism, apartheid, dictatorships, political corruption, natural disasters, epidemics, mortuary rituals and ‘thana-events,’ and ancient burial grounds or tombs. I also set out several theoretical frameworks to conceptualise future scholarship of dark tourism in Africa. Such post-disciplinary studies might include postcolonialism, dissonance, plural heritages, meaning-making and affect, cultural imperialism, soft-power and place-making, diasporas, nationhood, futurology, and thanatology. Ultimately, dark tourism as a field of study can enlighten challenges and consequences of (re)presenting death and calamity within African visitor economies.

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