'Dark Tourism' conference to explore troubled history

21 April 2017

Photo credit: Ambroise Tezenas

Photo credit: Ambroise Tezenas

Academics, historians, and curators will gather at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to explore the phenomenon of dark tourism and its soaring popularity.

The Holocaust and Nazi architecture will form the central focus of the international conference, which will consider how memorial sites such as concentration camps and the locations of mass genocide strike a balance between tourism, remembrance and education.

Dark tourism is a term coined by GCU Professor John Lennon, describing tourism and travel sites historically associated with tragedy.

Sites connected to the Holocaust continue to prove hugely popular with tourists, with the former German Nazi camp Auschwitz-Birkenau attracting more than one million tourists each year.

The four-day conference, which will run from June 28- July 1, will reflect on the tourist experience and address the challenges facing museum curators and professionals, including how to present difficult historical periods, increasing commercialisation, media representation and remembrance.

It will compare different approaches being taken and cover topics such as conservation of Nazi architecture and best practice in education and learning.

It is organised by GCU in partnership with the Centre for Holocaust Studies at the Institute of Contemporary History in Germany and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC.

Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development at GCU, said: “The conference brings together international academics, museum curators, historians and researchers in the field to explore issues in our shared and troubled history. We hope to learn from best practice in the sector and inform future interpretation of such dark sites.”

The conference, entitled ‘Dark Tourism Sites related to the Holocaust, the Nazi Past and World War II: Visitation and Practice’, will feature international experts including John Lennon, Alicja Podbielska, Colin Philpott, Frank Bajohr and Suzanne Brown-Flemming. 

The event will also feature highlights from the Gathering the Voices exhibition, organised by GCU’s Angela Shapiro, which gathers the testimonies of men and women who sought safety in Scotland after escaping the racism of Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.

For more information and to register - http://www.moffatcentre.com/darktourismconference2017/