‘Making Tragic Places’: Dark Tourism and the Manchester Bee

Stone, Philip orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9632-1364 (2023) ‘Making Tragic Places’: Dark Tourism and the Manchester Bee. In: Tourism Places: Visitor Economies and Mobilities in an Age of Crisis Conference, 7-8 June, 2023, Institute of Place Management, Manchester Met University.

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We live in a dominion of the Other dead where certain kinds of death are packaged as commodities within visitor economies. It is here that dark tourism collides with a society of the spectacle and, consequently, tragic memories are retailed as kitsch mementos. Whilst death has long been an article of trade, commodification within dark tourism and its interrelationship with placemaking has been overlooked in the literature. The purpose of my presentation, therefore, is to outline the spectacle of atrocity and, in so doing, explore commercialisation of the dead within visitor economies. Drawing upon notions of commodification, placemaking, kitschification, and semiotics, I construct an original conceptual model to lay a scholarly route map for future empirical research. Moreover, I present a case study from the 2017 terrorist attack on the Ariana Grande concert. In so doing, I note how the previously obscure Manchester Bee city icon re-emerged with new semiotics and its subsequent ‘tragic placemaking’ of Manchester, UK. Consequently, I argue kitschification of atrocity into a capitalistic product renders collective grief into mercantile memorialisation.

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