The Stories We Tell: Expanding Conceptions of Dark Tourism and Cultural Identity in America

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Campbell-Firkus, Darby Danielle
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Middle Tennessee State University
This thesis explores dark tourism in the context of the construction of sociocultural identity in the United States. Examining how cultural attitudes shape memorialization practices, historic preservation of dark tourism properties and cultural resources reveals that the public is an equal partner in curating historical and cultural identity. Despite scholarship in other academic areas, there is a deficit of historic preservation work concerning dark tourism properties. This thesis utilizes an interdisciplinary approach by synthesizing scholarship from various academic fields that have touched on issues related to the relationship between cultural identity, American mythologies, historic preservation, and dark tourism. It examines case studies of properties connected to themes of death, suffering, and the supernatural through empirical history, American mythology, or both. This study also incorporates survey research that explores tour offerings in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, specifically as they pertain to fiction, folklore, and dark tourism as defined in leisure and tourism studies. History is shaped by the stories we tell, but the stories we tell, in turn, shape our understanding of history.
American History, Cultural Identity, Dark History, Dark Tourism, Historic Preservation, Tourism, History, American history