Journey into the Dark
: The Photographic Practise and Imagery of Dark Tourism

  • Rebecca Lilith Bathroy

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the experiences and practices of photographers at sites of dark tourism or than a tourism around the world. This includes a reflexive and auto ethnographic account of the researcher’s own photographic practise, based on visits to 100 sites in 20 countries on four continents. As such, it is a predominantly practise-based thesis, which includes commentary on the preparation of these visits, in collaboration with research participants (dark tourist photographers), the photographs taken, and their creation, manipulation and dissemination. This includes a special exhibition of key photographs with an examination of their composition, and an account of their production and public reception. How and why do photographers go to places with dark visual stories associated with them? Why do they feel the need to visit these places and take photographs of their journey and the journey’s destination, and what use do they make of the results of their photography after they return home? Photography is a key element of dark tourism and this thesis sheds light on this dark image- creation at locations visited with 50 participants on 11 separate field study trips. It also includes an assessment of how these contentious photographs are viewed in society, especially on social media. The thesis argues that by participating in photography at these locations, dark tourists – including the researcher – are extending their experience of the visit and creating a particular form of dark photograph, unique to these sites. In sum, by examining this unique area of tourism, this practise-based thesis improves our understanding of dark tourism. It offers contextualisation of the dark images, and the motivation and activities deployed to create them, making a contribution to how these photographs affect society.
Date of Award14 Jul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
Sponsorstechnē AHRC
SupervisorJonathan Skinner (Director of Studies) & Garry Marvin (Co-Supervisor)


  • Dark tourism
  • death
  • photography
  • autoethnography

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