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Contested National Tragedies: An Ethical Dimension

Wight, Craig



Richard Sharpley

Philip R. Stone


This chapter explores some of the intrinsically western ethical complexities associated with the production and consumption of dark tourism attractions, focusing specifi cally on contested narratives of national tragedy and dis-graced monuments. As such, it addresses from an ethical perspective the issue of competing ideologies or narratives that is the subject of the follow-ing chapter. The cultural conditions which have supported the emergence of ethics and morality as discourses of international tourism are examined and the ethical implications of authorising certain narratives of national tragedy (over others) through the texts of heritage sites, monuments and visitor centres are discussed in the context of 21st-century ‘moralised’ tour-ism activity. The writings of Donald Horne and his observations about legit-imating public culture through the ‘dream factory’ of tourism are drawn on to conceptualise the morality of selling narratives of national tragedy at heritage sites. The initial section discusses ethics and the commercialisation of dark narratives and the chapter later refl ects on the application of these theories to the marketplace using Grutas Park in Lithuania as a case in point. It is argued that dark tourism may well be one strand of a contemporary discourse of ‘moral tourism’ and that the activity is perhaps in itself a taste-fully distinct travel choice of the western tourism consumer. Some back-ground understanding of the term ‘dark tourism’ is assumed.

Publication Date 2009
Deposit Date Nov 9, 2022
Pages 129-144
Book Title The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism
Chapter Number 7
ISBN 9781845411169
Public URL