Places of Pain and Shame in Lancashire

Stone, Philip orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9632-1364 (2023) Places of Pain and Shame in Lancashire. In: UCLan Public Lecture Series, 27 April 2023, UCLan.

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Travelling to meet our significant dead has long been a feature of the touristic imagination. We are inexplicably drawn to sites of pain and shame. Today, this darker side of travel is known as ‘dark tourism’. Indeed, contemporary tourist experiences now incorporate the morbid and the fatality of others. From sites such as Ground Zero, Auschwitz-Birkenau, war memorials, to the lighter side of dark tourism at Blackpool Dungeon visitor attraction, our mistakes, misdeeds, and misfortunes are exposed by landscapes of disasters, calamity, and the macabre. Visiting and remembering our Other dead is a cultural phenomenon – we attach importance to certain kinds of death and the dead. In turn, the dead can become significant to the living, where we get a sense of mortality through the stories of those who came before us. Yet, commemoration is fraught with political dilemmas, where ethics of interpretation, commercialization, and tourist behavior are bound up within remembrances.

In the world’s first ever tourist guidebook dedicated to dark tourism - ‘111 Dark Places in England That You Shouldn’t Miss’ (2021), Philip Stone explores the darker side of travel and difficult heritage. There is an abundance of dark tourism sites across Lancashire and the north-west of England. In this public lecture, Philip will offer a critical summary of dark tourism, as well as presenting a thought-provoking compendium of the region’s rich and often contested past. In so doing, he will shine a light on inherently complex and compelling issues associated with commemorating our significant dead. Philip will outline the lessons to be learned from ‘heritage that hurts’ and to allow you to sightsee in the mansions of the dead, while having deference to those deceased.

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