Institute for Dark Tourism Research (iDTR)
The Institute for Dark Tourism Research (iDTR) is a world-leading academic centre for dark tourism scholarship, research and teaching.
The iDTR promotes ethical research into the social scientific understanding of tourist sites of death, disaster or the seemingly macabre. The iDTR brings together researchers who seek to deliver internationally recognized research that contributes to the ethical and social scientific understanding of dark tourism and dark heritage.
The iDTR seeks to research, publish, and consult as to the appropriate development, management, interpretation and promotion of dark tourism sites, attractions and exhibitions, as well as understanding tourist experiences.
Dr Philip Stone, Executive Director of iDTR, was interviewed by That's Lancashire. His full interview is now available to view.
He was also interviewed by BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service.
The iDTR will seek to:
- Build research capacity in the area of dark tourism in order to publish high-quality outputs.
- Enhance, influence and inform industry practitioners to help ensure the ethical implementation and management of dark tourism/heritage sites, attractions and exhibitions.
- Establish a global reputation as a centre of excellence for developing innovative interdisciplinary approaches to dark tourism research.
- Increase the level of local, national and international research collaborations with industry, academia and the media.
- Update and improve knowledge that informs the curriculum and the teaching of dark tourism as well as research methods.
Dark tourism- often referred to as ‘thanatourism’ in the academic literature -is the act of travel to sites, attractions and exhibitions of death, disaster or the seemingly macabre. Dark tourism is a broad-ranging and often-contentious consumer activity that can provoke debate about how death and the dead are packaged up and consumed within the modern visitor economy.
Dark tourism as an 'academic typology' or 'scholarly brand' has raised many research questions about fundamental interrelationships between contemporary society and the commodification of death. These include, but are not limited to, issues of commemoration, memorialization and ‘secular pilgrimage’. Importantly, dark tourism has historical pedigree and has arguably occurred ever since people have had the means and motivation to travel for leisure. For example, early ‘dark tourism’ might have constituted attendance at Roman gladiatorial games, or spectator events at medieval executions, or undertaking morgue tours of 19th century Europe, or even touristic visits to battlefields such as to Waterloo or Gettysburg in the immediate aftermath of the conflicts.
However, dark tourism today does not present death per se but, rather, represents certain kinds of death. As such, dark tourism and the commercialization of death and disaster is referred to as a contemporary mediating institution between the living and the dead. Therefore, touristic visits to former battlefields or to war sites, slavery-heritage places, prisons, cemeteries, particular museum exhibitions and 'macabre-themed' visitor attractions, Holocaust sites, or to natural and man-made disaster locations might constitute the broad realm of ‘dark tourism’.
Over the past decade or so, a growing body of interdisciplinary research has been undertaken that revolves around the concept of ‘death-related’ travel. At the same time media interest in the concept of dark tourism continues to grow, the juxtaposition of the words ‘dark’ and ‘tourism’ undoubtedly providing an attention-grabbing headline. However, to date, the academic literature remains eclectic and theoretically fragile. Our understanding of both production and consumption of dark tourism remains limited – especially considering the relationships between dark tourism and the cultural condition and social institutions of contemporary societies.
The Institute for Dark Tourism Research aims to shine a critical light on dark tourism activities. In so doing, our research can help provide a lens through which life and death may be glimpsed, thus revealing relationships and consequences of the processes that mediate between consumerism, heritage, and the tourist experience. Our research also aims to reveal the dynamics through which people are drawn to sites redolent with images of death, as well as the manner in which they are induced to behave there.
Particularly, our research focuses on providing critical insights into dark tourism and society, culture, politics, as well as ethics and morality.
Dr Philip Stone’s research paper 'Dark tourism and significant other death. Towards a Model of Mortality Mediation' is in the Top 25 Most Cited papers (since 2012) in the 4* journal Annals of Tourism Research Dr Philip Stone and Prof. Richard Sharpley’s research paper 'Consuming dark tourism: A Thanatological Perspective' is in the Top 10 Most Downloaded papers in the last 90 days in the 4* journal Annals of Tourism Research (April 2017)
Stone, P.R (2013) Dark Tourism, Heterotopias and Post-Apocalyptic Places: The case of Chernobyl. In L.White & E.Frew (Eds) Dark Tourism and Place Identity. Melbourne: Routledge.
Stone, P.R. (2012) Dark Tourism and Significant Other Death: Towards a model of mortality mediation. Annals of Tourism Research, 39(3), pp. 1565-1587.
Stone, P.R. (2012) Dark tourism as 'mortality capital': The case of Ground Zero and the Significant Other Dead. In R.Sharpley & Stone, P.R (Eds) Contemporary Tourist Experience: Concepts and Consequences. Abington, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 71-94.
Sharpley, R. (2012) Towards an understanding of ‘genocide tourism’: An analysis of visitors’ accounts of their experience of recent genocide sites. In R.Sharpley & Stone, P.R (Eds) Contemporary Tourist Experience: Concepts and Consequences. Abington, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 95-109.
Stone, P.R. (2011) . Current Issues in Tourism, Vol 14, Issue 7, pp.685-701.
Stone, P.R. (2011) Dark Tourism Experiences: mediating between life and death. In R.Sharpley & P.R Stone (eds) Tourist Experience: Contemporary Perspectives. Abington Oxon: Routledge, pp. 21-27.
Stone, P.R. (2011) Dark Tourism: towards a new post-disciplinary research agenda. International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, Vol 1, No 3/4, pp. 318-332.
Stone, P.R. (2010) Death, Dying and Dark Tourism in Contemporary Society: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis. Doctoral Thesis (PhD), University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.
Sharpley, R.& Stone, P.R. (eds) (2009) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Aspects of Tourism Series, Channel View Publications: Bristol.
Stone, P.R. (2009) Dark Tourism: Morality and New Moral Space. In R.Sharpley& P.R.Stone (eds) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Channel View Publications: Bristol, pp. 56-72.
Stone, P.R. (2009) "It's Bloody Guide" - Fun, Fear and a Lighter Side of Dark Tourism at the Dungeon Visitor Attractions, UK. In R.Sharpley & P.R.Stone (eds) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Channel View Publications: Bristol, pp.167-185.
Stone, P.R. (2009) Making Absent Death Present: Consuming Dark Tourism in Contemporary Society. In R.Sharpley & P.R.Stone (eds) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Channel View Publications: Bristol, pp.23-38.
Sharpley, R.& Stone P.R. (2009) Life, Death and Dark Tourism: Future Research Directions. In R.Sharpley & P.R.Stone (eds) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism, Channel View Publications, Bristol, pp. 247-251.
Sharpley, R.& Stone, P.R. (2009) (Re)Presenting the Macabre: Interpretation, Kitschification and Authenticity. In R.Sharpley& P.R.Stone (eds) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Channel View Publications: Bristol, pp.109-128.
Sharpley, R. (2009) Shedding Light on Dark Tourism: An Introduction. In R.Sharpley & P.R.Stone (eds) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Channel View Publications: Bristol, pp.3-22.
Sharpley, R. (2009) Dark Tourism and Political Ideology: Towards a Governance Model. In R.Sharpley & P.R.Stone (eds) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Channel View Publications: Bristol, pp.145-163.
Sharpley, R. (2009) Battlefield Tourism: Bringing Organised Violence Back to Life. In R.Sharpley & P.R.Stone (eds) The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Channel View Publications: Bristol, pp.186-206. [with F.Baldwin]
Stone, P.R.& Sharpley, R. (2008) Consuming Dark Tourism: a thanatological perspective. Annals of Tourism Research, 35(2), pp.574-595.
Stone, P.R. (2006) A Dark Tourism Spectrum: Towards a typology of death and macabre related tourist sites, attractio[Further Details / Download]ns and exhibitions. TOURISM: An Interdisciplinary International Journal, (54)2, pp. 145-160.
Stone, P.R. (2005) Consuming Dark Tourism: a call for research. eReview of Tourism Research, 3(5), pp. 109-117.
Sharpley, R. (2005) Travels to the edge of darkness: Towards a typology of dark tourism. In C.Ryan, S.Page and M.Aicken (Eds) Taking Tourism to the Limits: Issues, Concepts and Managerial Perspectives. London: Elsevier, pp. 215-226.
TL3067 (Level 5) – Dark Tourism and Thana-Events: Managing Macabre Attractions & Exhibitions
MPhil / PhD opportunities to research dark tourism are also available.
Dr Philip Stone
Executive Director of iDTR. Philip is a former General Manager and Management Consultant within the UK tourism sector. He spent 15 years in the private sector before joining the University of Central Lancashire in 2004. His primary research interests revolve around the production and consumption of dark tourism and its fundamental relationships with contemporary society. Philip has published in numerous international academic journals, presented at a variety of international conferences, as well as acting as media consultant on dark tourism to both press and broadcast institutions across the world.
Professor Richard Sharpley
Associate Director of iDTR. Richard is Professor of Tourism and Development at the University of Central Lancashire. He has previously held positions at a number of other institutions, including the University of Northumbria (Reader in Tourism) and the University of Lincoln, where he was Professor of Tourism and Head of Department, Tourism and Recreation Management. His principal research interests are within the fields of tourism and development, island tourism, rural tourism, dark tourism, and the sociology of tourism.
- exploration of tourist motivations to dark tourism sites
- the development of dark tourism within broader economic and cultural regenerations
- construction of secular morality at dark tourism sites
- political ideology at dark tourism sites and the examination of dark legacies
- dark tourism and heterotopias of space and place
- juxtapositions of the natural and supernatural in dark tourism landscapes
- consuming 'dark leisure' and the taboo in muselogical environments
- dark tourism, the act of mediation, and the role of the 'Significant Other Dead'
- dark tourism and the thanatological condition of contemporary society
- slavery-heritage and European (re)presentations of black culture in art and tourism