H. E. Sawyer, "I Am the Dark Tourist: Messenger of Remembrance" (Headpress, 2023)


Dark tourism is the practice of visiting sites associated with death and disaster. Participation is increasing, yet much of the machinations behind dark tourism remain shrouded in mystery, and intentionally so. 

In his latest book, I am the Dark Tourist, Messenger of Remembrance (Headpress, 2023), H.E. Sawyer explores the seductive premise that dark tourism offers the possibility of 'transformation'; that visiting memorials to past tragedy will ultimately lead us to becoming better versions of ourselves. Championed by enthusiastic governments -- notably in the UK -- 'must have' memorialisation has become an opportunity to groom the public with contrived grief from the past that will be replenished by establishment neglect in the future. From the waters of Loch Ness to the chaos of Mexico's Dia de Muertos, H. E. Sawyer considers the questions state-sponsored dark tourism fears whilst posing one for himself: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

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Rebekah Buchanan

Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.

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