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I Am The Dark Tourist Messenger of Remembrance

From the waters of Loch Ness to the chaos of Mexico’s Dia de Muertos, H.E. Sawyer considers the questions feared by state-sponsored dark tourism, and poses one of his own: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

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Angel, Brookwood. Photo: H.E. Sawyer
Angel, Brookwood. Photo: H.E. Sawyer

“In addition to visiting dark sites, reflecting on our behaviour in these places can be transformative — many of us have participated and yet few of us stop to really think about what that means. Why are we drawn to sites of suffering? How do we behave — and how should we behave — in these spaces? What do we actually take away from our experience? These are not simple questions; they are complex and often unsettling. They evoke an uneasy introspection.”

Dark tourism is the practice of visiting sites associated with death and disaster. Participation is increasing, yet the machinations behind dark tourism remain shrouded in mystery, and intentionally so. This book, a companion to I Am The Dark Tourist Travels to the Darkest Sites on Earth,  explores the seductive premise of ‘transformation’ that dark tourism offers: that visiting memorials to past tragedy will ultimately lead us to become better versions of ourselves.

Championed by enthusiastic governments — notably in the UK — ‘must have’ memorialisation provides an opportunity to engage the public with contrived grief from the past to be replaced 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 feared by state-sponsored dark tourism, and poses one of his own:

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Foreword, Dr Rachel Ironside

Preface

1. The Loch

2. The Tour

3. Shadow Places

4. Carefree

5. Highgate & Brookwood

6. Edward Colston, Frankenstein’s Monster

7. The Omnishambles

8. Grenfell

9. Dia de Muertos

10. Blown

11. The White Elephant

Postface

Acknowledgements / Sources / Index

  • I Am The Dark Tourist is H.E. Sawyer’s travel persona;
  • Provides an original take on the ‘dark tourism’ industry;
  • The first book in the series was critically acclaimed;
  • Dark tourism continues to grow and gain mainstream media recognition;
  • The previous book has been listed on WorldCat in over 500 university
    libraries worldwide;
  • There is a growing number of dark tourism courses in universities;
  • Taps into the appetite for the on-going Statue Wars with the Colson controversy;
  • Previous volume has 4.8 out of 5 stars/21 ratings on Amazon UK and 4.8 out of 5 stars/22 ratings on Amazon US

Students, academics, curators and practitioners within social studies and tourism with an emphasis on dark tourism, difficult heritage, memorialisation and the Holocaust. Its tone also favours armchair travellers, seasoned explorers, and critical thinkers.

Title: I AM THE DARK TOURIST
Subtitle: Messenger of Remembrance
Author: H.E. Sawyer
ISBN: 978-1-915316-17-2
Street Date: November 2, 2023
Category: Travel / Social Studies
Retail Price: UK £17.99 / US $31.95
Binding: Paperback
Size: 229mm x 152mm
Pages: 316
Illos: 62 b&w photos + 8 colour plates

As the trade paperback, except the special hardback edition is on higher quality paper.

This special NO-ISBN hardback is exclusive to this website. Because it carries No ISBN number, this edition of the book is off the grid in as much as it doesn’t appear on any database, in any library, cannot be ordered through mainstream bookshops or online retailers.

New Books NetworkInterview with the author
Rebekah Buchanan interviews H.E. Sawyer about his book, I Am The Dark Tourist: Messenger of Remembrance, for the New Books Network podcast.
Prof Brent McKenzieUniversity of Guelph
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H.E. Sawyer continues to probe the field of what makes one a Dark tourist. I Am The Dark Tourist: Messenger of Remembrance, builds upon his first book by providing new and interesting insights as to the evolving nature of a Dark tourist. Through first-hand case examples Sawyer demonstrates that it is often the site itself, or its management, that shapes the degree of 'darkness' for a tourist. Sawyer is not just an idle observer, but often an active participant in questioning key players as to their stated, versus the actual, purpose for dark sites and attractions. The writing style is highly entertaining, but also thought provoking, as to many of the issues that continue to plague dark tourism, such as ethics, morality, and arguably most importantly, who can and should be telling these stories?
Dr Jennifer Wallishistorian and author
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H.E. Sawyer's work should be read by anyone with even a passing interest in dark tourism and its commercialisation. From familiar debates about visitor behaviour at concentration camps, to new and evolving questions about memorialisation in the wake of the Colston statue felling in Bristol, Sawyer asks uncomfortable questions about the nature of dark tourism and the dark tourist, and addresses the multifaceted nature of dark tourism: as spectacle, as historical lesson, and as punishment.
Ally WilkesHorrified
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The question asked repeatedly throughout the book is: who benefits? And more importantly, who should benefit? ... Sawyer excels at finding the poignant, human note in the horrors underlying the sites he visits, and there isn’t a single chapter where this deeper engagement isn’t apparent. [on the first volume]
Andy PaciorekFolk Horror Revival
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In reading this book, it may cause others, like it did me, to question themselves as to how they really feel about such matters as Dark Tourism and if they too perhaps share a saturnine, even morbid interests, then why this may be. [on the first volume]
Microcosm Publishing
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I Am The Dark Tourist is a great insider's guide to explore the world of dark tourism vicariously through an experienced aficionado. [on the first volume]
Dr James KennellPrincipal Lecturer in Tourism, Events and Hospitality at the University of Greenwich & Executive Director of the London Office of the International Tourism Studies Association
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Absolutely loved this book. An antidote to so much recent, sensationalist #darktourism media. A very human look at ethical issues in dark tourism, and quite touching with it. [on the first volume]
Fortean Times
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I Am the Dark Tourist featured as the cover story for the “Protect and Survive” issue of Fortean Times (May 2019)
dark-tourism.com
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The most in-depth, most thoroughly researched, most thoughtful and thought-provoking and at the same time elegantly written books on dark tourism yet. Required reading! [on the first volume]
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H.E. Sawyer

H E SAWYER spent over 40 years travelling to dark sites in blissful ignorance before discovering this behaviour had been defined by academics and sensationalised by the mainstream media.

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