Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Emo" Tourism

The panel session announcement below was in my inbox today.... While Dark Tourism is a concept that I have known about for several years, the idea that there is an annual academic conference on "Evil and Human Wickedness" kind of threw me for a loop.

PANEL ON REALITY TOURS - Call for papers:

To be organized as part of the 8th Global Conference Perspectives on Evil and Human Wickedness. Monday 19th March - Friday 23rd March 2007, Salzburg, Austria

Ground Zero, Katrina Tours, Chernobyl Tours, Favela Tours – tragedy and poverty attract more and more tourists, especially those seeking “ethical” or “authentic” experiences. The aim of this panel is to gather scholars from different disciplines who have as their main object of investigation these so-called reality tours. We are particularly interested on discussing how human misery, understood on its broader sense, is commercialized on various kinds of tourist experiences, therefore relating reflections on these phenomena to issues of Western contemporary moralities.

I personally find Dark Tourism an interesting topic, which is why I subscribe to the Dark Tourism research email list, on which this announcement was posted. At the same time, I have not liked going scary movies since high school and I generally avoid the dark tourism's most morbid attractions -- which I find too depressing. There is, I think, a range of degrees of darkness. It is an edge phenomenon -- some people like to go close to the edge for the thrill, and a few people go over the edge into the depths of "evil and human wickedness."

This conference is put on by the American Political Science Association, not by tourism academics. Topics that are liste on the conference website include:
  • the concept and language of 'evil' and 'wickedness'
  • the nature and sources of evil and human wickedness
  • moral intuitions about dreadful crimes
  • psychopathic behaviour - mad or bad?
  • choice, responsibility, and diminished responsibility
  • social and cultural reactions to evil and human wickedness
  • the portrayal of evil and human wickedness in the media and popular culture
  • suffering in literature and film
  • individual acts of evil, group violence, holocaust and genocide; obligations of bystanders
  • terrorism, war, ethnic cleansing; the evils of terrorism, fear of terrorism, international relations especially with regard to the modern nation state, superpower interventionist strategies, post-war reorganisation following the evils of war
  • the search for meaning and sense in evil and human wickedness
  • the nature and tasks of theodicy
  • religious understandings of evil and human wickedness
  • postmodern approaches to evil and human wickedness
  • ecocriticism, evil and suffering
  • gender and evil
  • evil and the use/abuse of technology; evil in cyberspace
Sounds more like sociology and psychology than political science -- but I guess that is the nature of contemporary social sciences. Like the concept of Dark Tourism, I wonder what kind of people are attacted to a conference like this? Goths? Emos? Nazis? Closet goths, emos or nazis? Old/Retired goths, emos, and nazis? I don't mean to insult anyone, but this is the edge again, that we are talking about. Since I was part-jock, part-hippy in high school, I would guess that they are probably not like me. But then who can tell with a closet emo?

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