Tourism & Leisure Studies International Award for Excellence

The Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Tourism & Leisure Studies Research Network.

Award Winner for Volume 5

Behold, the Horror of Man: Dark Tourism in the Anthropocene

Prior to the coronavirus disruption, the first few decades of the twenty-first century witnessed a rapid expansion of the global tourist industry. By 2030 nearly a quarter of the global population is expected to travel. This unprecedented growth of tourist activity is occurring within an environment of profound change and uncertainty in the Earth’s climate, proverbially referred to as global warming or climate change. Human-induced effects on the planet’s geo-climate have become so pronounced that a new geological epoch was coined in 2000 to signify this fact—the Anthropocene. This article incorporates the insights from dark tourism to develop an argument for why global tourism has thrived in the Anthropocene. To forestall an ecologically induced crisis in the capitalist-driven tourist industry, this article suggests a variation of dark tourism has now become a dominant tourist practice. When combined with the concepts of social imaginaries and political ecology, dark tourism’s focus on tourism related to human-to-human suffering and acts of atrocity is critically examined and modified to incorporate human-to-nature degradation so prevalent in this anthropogenic moment. As a framework, dark tourism, which entwines travel with death, is deployed to explain the shifting patterns in the global tourist industry associated with the opening-up of Arctic and Antarctic regions. Using current and archival data from the UN World Tourist Organization, industry reports, web marketing sites, and expeditionary brochures, the legacy and utility of applying dark tourism to Anthropocene tourism is explored. This article illustrates that by calling into question previous conceptualizations of dark tourism, the salience of the concept in tourism and leisure studies is both demonstrated and enhanced. In short, dark tourism in the Anthropocene illuminates why Antarctic and Arctic regions are open for business—just as they begin to disappear under the yoke of the environmental atrocities attributed to the Anthropocene.

I have been affiliated with the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University for over 20 years. Being a University educator is both a privilege and responsibility, neither of which I take lightly. As an environment for critical engagement, the classroom is not only the epicenter of learning but is at the heart of a creating a lively and vigorous University culture, one that offers students an opportunity for personal exploration and growth. My areas of teaching and research are leisure studies, medical sociology, sociological theory, the environment, and political economy. Currently, my research focuses on the environmental impacts of global tourism with a special emphasis on Antarctica; governance, biopower and global pandemics; the effects of satellite technology in the formation of climate science; and the study of community-based health care. In this time of uncertainty, collectively we have a responsibility to apply our critical knowledge and understanding of the world to promote effective and meaningful social change.

Pat Mahoney

Past Award Winners

Volume 4

Impact of Changing US-Cuba Relations on Push and Pull Travel Motivations of American Tourists to Cuba

Pavlina Latkova, Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.1–14

Volume 3

Impacts of Participation in Socially Responsible Tourism on Tourist’s Attitudes and Future Behavior: Amazon Watch Journey to Ecuador

Heather Duplaisir, Pavlina Latkova, Jackson Wilson, and Malia Everette, Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.1–19

Volume 2

The Application of Slow Movement to Tourism: Is Slow Tourism a New Paradigm?

Polyxeni Moira, Dimitrios Mylonopoulos and Ekaterini Kondoudaki, Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.1–10

Volume 1

Investigating Differences in Generational Travel Preferences: The Case of the New River Gorge, West Virginia

Douglas Arbogast and Megan L. Smith, Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.9–29