Law Text Culture

Article Title

Dark Tourism


The phrase ‘dark tourism’ was coined by Lennon and Foley (2000) to describe a relatively new kind of sight-seeing; one that attends sites of death, disaster and despair. This essay intertwines personal memoir and scholarly critique to reflect on prisons as places for dark tourism, and imprisonment more generally. Its fundamental contention is that as tourist attractions, former prisons have complex histories that resist easy digestion. More than 20 years ago, the author was a regular visitor to a now defunct South Australian gaol, and recently revisited the place in its current incarnation as a tourist attraction. This experience informs her argument that stories told in and by prison museums are both easily trivialised and dangerously partial. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are respectfully advised that this essay includes some discussion of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and mentions the names and circumstances of several Aboriginal men’s deaths (as they were reported in the RCIACID).