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Iconic Power, Dark Tourism and the Spectacle of Suffering

Carrabine, E (2017) 'Iconic Power, Dark Tourism and the Spectacle of Suffering.' In: Wilson, JZ and Hodgkinson, S and Piché, J and Walby, K, (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Tourism. Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology . Palgrave Macmillan, 13 - 36. ISBN 978-1-137-56134-3, 1-137-56134-3

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In this chapter I explore some of the ethical questions posed by dark tourism and the spectacle of suffering, via two examples. One is of Ai Weiwei’s temporary exhibition on Alcatraz, which juxtaposes extraordinary conceptual art installations in one of the major sites of prison tourism, to explore the relationships between art and activism in carceral space. The second is the display of genocidal evidence at both the Khmer Rouge “security centre” code-named S-21, which was a former high school in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, and the “Killing Fields” of Choeung Ek, ten miles east of the capital, where prisoners were taken to be executed. Recognizing that dark tourism involves a “fluid spectrum of intensity” (Stone 2006: 146), the museum experience is nevertheless central to it where representations of death, disaster, or atrocity are displayed for an uneasy mix of education, commerce, and memorialization purposes. At the lighter end of the scale are those sites loosely associated with violence and trauma, examples of which would include the London Dungeon or the proposed Dracula theme park in Romania, which are “firmly entertainment focussed and commercialized,” while toward the middle of the range and combining “education and entertainment” are prison tourist sites, whereas the “darkest” places (such as Holocaust museums) are locations that “can invoke sombre reflection, grief, sorrow, shock and horror” (Barton and Brown 2015: 238).

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2017 10:19
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2020 01:00

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