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Word of the day: Thanatourism

There appears to be a strong new trend in cultural tourism called grief tourism or (my new favorite word) thanatourism. The Grief Tourism blog lists categories of thanatourism in which one can specialize, including battlefield, cemetery, ghost, Holocaust and prison specializations, as well as sites of murders, natural disasters and terrorism. A recent history museum community posting calls for papers for a “Conference on Dark/Death/Thanatourism” in New York this April.

In their words: “These sites are part of the recreational landscape of tourism, which, through the genre of thanatourism, has managed to incorporate this particular form of ‘negative sightseeing’ into what is otherwise an industry dedicated to pleasure, time out of time, and escape, as well as to edification, spiritual experience, and personal transformation.”

This adds another dimension to the issues museums face as we re-define our roles in the new century, especially in light of the paranormal investigation significance we didn’t know we had (see previous post).

We look forward, with tears of anticipation in our eyes,  to more research on these issues.

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