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“If You Like Your History Horrible”: The Obscene Supplementarity of Thanatourism

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>7/02/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Annals of Tourism Research
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


By examining witch tourism in Lancashire, England, this paper reveals the ideological role that dark histories fulfil for consumer culture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, we explore thanatourism as a means for ‘post-historical’ subjects to conceive of wilder, pre-liberal worlds before capitalist realism extinguished all alternatives. Nevertheless, because of how history remains subsumed and consumed commercially, thanatourism works to support rather than subvert tacit endorsement of the neoliberal-capitalist present. Using Derrida and Žižek’s theoretical articulations of ‘supplementarity’, we show how thanatourism and its dark historical content is made to function as an ‘obscene supplement’ to the neoliberal-capitalist present through three processes: managed metempsychosis, governed grotesquerie, and curated kitschification. Authenticity within thanatourism remains illusory, but an illusion that nonetheless perpetuates capitalist realism.