From Chernobyl to concentration camps: why the morbid fascination with places of death and disaster? - Deepstash

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Dark tourism

Dark tourism

Travelling to places where death or tragedy has taken place is dubbed dark tourism.

Early examples of dark tourism, or thanatourism, are medieval public executions or pilgrimages to cemeteries and battlefields. More recent examples include narco-tourism in Colombia and Mexico, nuclear tourism in Chernobyl and Fukushima, and shooting ranges in Phnom Penh.

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Why we are so fascinated with dark tourism

Philosopher Damon Young believes dark tourism takes us out of our ordinary and mundane lives. One can feel a thrill about death, but only if you are safe. Tourists might get physical proximity to disaster sites but are protected from the place's real trauma.

Young believes getting your thrill from someone's suffering is dodgy.

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The ethics of visiting death sites

There is a difference between tourism and visiting a place to pay respect. People feel the need to mark sites of tragedy out of respect and to gather there together.

Dark tourists have a curious mixing of mourning, pilgrimage, paying respect and morbid curiosity. However, visiting these places should benefit the local communities. You have to treat locals as human beings, not instruments of entertainment.

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