27.10.2023, 07:37 - Views: 314

Karabakh - Azerbaijan! The main trends in the development of “dark” tourism, considering the creation of an “open-air museum” (philosophical analysis)

Tahmina Aghakishieva
Associate professor, Doctor of Philosophy
On Philosophy Institute of Philosophy and Sociology
Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
Azerbaijan, Baku

Abstarct: This article is devoted to the phenomenon of dark tourism as a specific type of travel. The author considered various definitions of this term and, as a result of the study of conflicting concepts, identified the typology of this type of tourism. During the analysis, problems were identified in this area. In addition, the article describes the state of cultural monuments, architecture, and infrastructure. Nevertheless, from this position, emphasis is placed on the importance of developing black tourism in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan.
Keywords: Karabakh, dark tourism, black tourism, cultural monuments, open-air museum, liberated territories, Azerbaijan.

Relevance: This topic is exceptionally relevant today due to the fact that in the era of information technology, modern human is not satisfied with traveling for traditional purposes. As proven, various extreme and non-traditional types of tourism are gaining popularity. The purpose of the presented work is to show the options for the existing formulations of black tourism, highlight the directions of a new type of travel, and also analyze the reasons for the attractiveness of this type of tour. Since travelers began to visit places associated with death and destruction, the concept of "gloom tourism" has gradually entered the lexicon. Equivalent concepts can be black tourism, dark tourism, grief tourism, thanatourism, etc.
Recent scientific studies show that numerous places of former disasters, museums dedicated to death, cemeteries and crypts, various destructions attract millions of tourists from all over the world. Experts include Pompeii, the Egyptian pyramids, memorials, places of catastrophes and natural disasters, and even the most ordinary excursions to cemeteries to the “black” sights. In addition, the practice of many domestic and foreign travel agencies explains that very often tourists become more active after hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and other natural disasters. “Tours to the sites of disasters (earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, man-made disasters, for example, an overview of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant from a helicopter) and extreme situations as contemplation of public executions are called “disaster tour” [5]. As a consequence, we can also say that the audience of black tourism can be extremely wide, which shows the high potential of this type of tourism, since there are a large number of reasons why tourists can visit dark territories. In addition, the low degree of development of this type of tourism also adds relevance to this topic, which is the subject of lively discussions. It is important to note that in a number of countries "black tourism" occupies a prominent place in their economy. Accordingly, in recent decades, significant research has been carried out in foreign economic and tourism science. Scientists who have studied this phenomenon do not have a consensus on why dark tourism is so popular among people worldwide. Some believe that this is how travelers satisfy their emotional arousal, while others are sure that visiting places of mass graves or murders makes a person euphoric.
It should be brought to attention that the first apostle of the black tourist was the British Yanni Yuta, who devoted more than a dozen years to traveling through the darkest corners of the planet [8]. The first travel agencies specializing in dark tourism began their activities with a trip to Lakehurst, New Jersey, to the site of the crash of the Hindenburg airship. The name of travel to the places of tragedy “dark tourism” or “black tourism” was first used in the “International Journal of Heritage Studies” and came into usage in 1996, but this concept became widely used in 2000 after the publication of the book “Black tourism”, written by professors of Glasgow University Malcolm Foley and John Lennon [5]. However, ideas about the phenomenon of black tourism still remain controversial. In particular, today there is no clear definition of this phenomenon, there are many different definitions of black tourism.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “dark tourism” as tourism that involves travel to places associated with death and suffering [6]. It is important to point out that Scottish scholars Malcolm Foley and John Lennon define dark tourism as “a phenomenon involving the presentation and consumption of commodified places of death and catastrophes” [3, p.60]. According to researchers, gloomy tourism is mainly a phenomenon of postmodernism. This means that in today's world, we strive to rethink some moments in history and gloomy tourism can contribute to this. Lennon and Foley also believe that the main condition for the existence of gloomy tourism is global communication technologies because they play a crucial role in creating the initial interest in macabre destinations. Therefore, scientists argue that we cannot consider the places of battles before the 20th century or, for example, burial places that are more than one thousand years old as gloomy territories, because these events happened too long ago for modern people to understand and rethink them.
The professor of the Scottish tourism research center Tony Seaton, the author of “Thanatotourism: A Guide to Darkness”, is also trying to understand the nature of dark tourism. He defines thanatourism as “a journey to some place, fully or partially motivated by the desire for a symbolic meeting with death, in particular, violent” [4, p.238]. Russian researchers are also trying to define this phenomenon, which is completely new for the Russian tourism business. According to professor E.V. Bugria, “gloomy tourism” is a specific type of tourism, involving visits to cemeteries and burials, trips to places of disasters (environmental or man-made), natural disasters and mass deaths [5]. “We do not see human lives behind this and perceive it as a game,” says culturologist Aleksey Krivolap [9].
It should be noted that the foreign media view the goals of black tourism as follows: “Midstream”, May 1, 2005: When you come to the US and visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum, located in Washington, DC, you become a participant in what experts call "black tourism" - familiarization with the cruelty or tragic events that happened. “Observer”, October 23, 2005: “Dark tourism” sites are important testaments to the consistent failure of humanity to temper our worst excesses and, managed well, they can help us to learn from the darkest elements of our past [5]. Consequently, a generalized definition of black tourism has been put forward. “Black tourism” is a new direction in tourism associated with tragic events in the history of the state – wars, destruction, human suffering, natural disasters, and capable of causing certain emotions among tourists. The interest in the objects of “black” tourism is explained by the following reasons: “Curiosity; search for novelty; cultural heritage; memory; emotions; the role of the media” [1, p.46].
It is impossible not to notice that in the era of communications, we often move away from real objects and get acquainted with their reproduction in the media. We get knowledge about what is happening around us from the media, but we see almost nothing with our own eyes. Many people want to experience the reality behind images in the media or are driven to learn more through personal association with places or events. This phenomenon raises ethical questions regarding the status and nature of objects, the extent to which they are interpreted, the appropriate political and managerial response, and the nature of the experience perceived by the visitor. “Historical and archaeological monuments, landmarks and memorial sites have always attracted the attention of people who wanted to see them with their own eyes and therefore became tourists” [2, p.30].
Black tourism, like any other area of tourism, has its weaknesses and problems, which inevitably leads to its criticism. One of the problems is the question of how ethical it is to visit such places for tourism purposes. The next important problem of dark tourism is ensuring the safety of tourists when they are active in industrial tourism or disaster tourism. Modern history has many deaths or injuries of tourists at such facilities due to the lack of organization of this type of tour, the irresponsibility of the tourists themselves, and the lack of control of industrial tourism facilities. Of course, people must learn the truth about the events, but at the same time, respect must be shown to the victims of tragic events. Unfortunately, many tourists perceive such excursions as entertainment. Creating grinning selfie against the backdrop of places where hundreds of people died or military graves, on the field of a concentration camp, etc. testifies to immorality, which makes us think about morality (of course, this is a topic for a separate article).
Black tourism and Karabakh! According to the author of the work the main attraction of dark places is their historical value and not their association with death and suffering. She suggests that “black tourism” can act as a means of resilience, helping society to recover from destruction, natural disaster or catastrophe, etc. When tourists are in such territory as, for example, Karabakh, or in some museum dedicated to death, they will certainly begin to think about how a similar moral holocaust could occur in a modern and progressive society. How could one lose one's moral and spiritual character and go to such a large-scale destruction, which was carried out in Karabakh for 30 years by the Armenian invaders. Everything seen by tourists in the presented destinations delves into their memory. Memory is a vital part of human activity that forms our links to the past, and how we value it. Memory reveals us in the present. Memory is not only mobilized to record the events of the past, but also to activate the human conscience. However, as it is said, it is impossible to understand someone else's pain without experiencing the pain yourself, but the fact is that during a visit, realizing the importance of the historical cultural heritage of the represented people, visitors reveal their emotions in their own way and, at the same time, merging with the life of the local population, they understand and feel the tragedy. History seems to come alive before the eyes of the visitor, and he becomes a part of it. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to be aware of certain historical and cultural information about these people. The author suggests that this may be the most important reason why people are interested in dark destinations.
Kenan Kuluzade, the head of the sector for public and media relations of the State Tourism Agency of the Azerbaijan Republic, noted in one of his interviews: “Different types of tourism will develop in Karabakh, including specific “black tourism” [7]. In fact, an open-air museum is needed on the territory of Karabakh, which will demonstrate the barbarism of the Armenian occupiers. In accordance with certain places, tourist routes will be built so that visitors can see the scale of destruction and the horrors that had been created with our lands over the past thirty years. Let the whole world know that the Armenian vandals left behind a scorched land with the status of a “ghost town”. In addition, it is also desirable to use black tourism destinations for educational purposes. For example, in Auschwitz in Poland, every German-speaking student became obligated to visit this museum during their studies. Our future generations must have information about what happened in their original lands. The goal of developing dark tourism in Karabakh, taking into account the creation of an ‘open-air museum’, is to convey to the world audience the scale of destruction in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and the desecration of the national, cultural and spiritual heritage of our country.
Today it is obvious that the 30-year unjust Armenian occupation has caused great damage to the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan. The barbaric attitude, unacceptable destruction of urban engineering infrastructure, masterpieces of architecture, monuments of historical, religious and cultural significance, mosques, graves, monasteries, churches, cemeteries, buildings and the natural diversity of Karabakh embody the whole vile essence of the Armenian aggressors. They razed to the ground everything in the occupied territories. There are irrefutable facts and evidence that Armenia, despite being a member of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the 1970 Paris Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer ownership of cultural property, destroyed, falsified and looted the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan in the occupied territories.
The author of the article believes that the city of Shusha fully complies with all the parameters of black tourism. It is important to state that the city has a very ancient history. Shusha as a cultural center is affluent with its historical, material and cultural monuments has rich literature, art, and musical culture. All this formed a kind of “gene pool” of the artistic culture of the Azerbaijani people and made up its rich heritage. Armenian vandals tried to destroy our historical past, to erase our spiritual memory. Centers of culture, monuments, and constructions, which are the historical and architectural heritage of our people, have been plundered, destroyed and Armenianized in the city. Among those subjected to Armenian vandalism in the city of Shusha are the walls of the Shusha fortress, the palace and library of Panah Ali Khan, the tower and castle of Ibrahim Khan, the Khan's palace and the two-story caravanserai, the mausoleum of Molla Panah Vagif, the mosque of Yukhara Gevher aga, the mosque of Ashagi Gevher aga, the estate of Hajigullar, the palace of Karabakh khans, Mehmandarovs' estate complex, Khurshidbanu Natavan's house and spring, houses of A.Akhverdiev, G.Zakir, M.Behbudovs, Khan Shushinsky, the house, mosque and spring of Mamai Bey, the house-museum of Uzeyir Gadzhibekov, Bulbul, a forest school, the monuments of Uzeyir Gadzhibekov, Bulbul and Khurshidbanu Natavan, etc. There are state materials confirming the destruction of the above cultural monuments. However, the Armenian invaders did not completely destroy the city, due to the fact that our Azerbaijani special forces suddenly invaded the city.
It should be noted that in every country there is a place known for its sad history from ancient times to the present day. For example, places of public deaths and executions: the Colosseum is the most famous of the places where death was transformed from a natural process into a commodity. This is one of the wonders of the world and symbols of Rome but, at the same time, a place where many slaves died during construction, and then the townspeople had fun watching the gladiator fights. It would be enough to recall bullfighting in Spain, and so on. Many such examples can be cited. Also, in modern times, there is a practice in the world of preserving destroyed objects and demonstrating them to visitors. For example the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland (also known by the German name Auschwitz-Birkenau); the Museum “Holocaust” in Jerusalem; the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan; Hoi An in Vietnam; the Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius; Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia.
It should be emphasized that the study made it possible to conclude that the development of dark tourism in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, taking into account the creation of open-air museums, is largely due to significantly greater opportunities for preserving, demonstrating, and popularizing objects of historical and cultural heritage, and is one of the perspective ways to develop in modern conditions.
It is assumed that the research topic will be of interest to a certain part of the audience, which can cause quite an enthralling discussion, considering a personal point of view.

1. Kopylova A. “Gloomy tourism: on the issue of studying the phenomenon” // Tourism: technologies and trends, No. 2, 2016, p. 40–50 (In Russian)
2. Mastenitsa E. “The evolution of open-air museums and tourism: reflection of the problem in the course “Museum reserves” // Museum and tourism: training. Experience and perspectives. Collection of materials of the All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference / SPbGUKI: 2005, p. 28-38 (In Russian)
3. Foley M. & Lennon J. J. “Dark tourism: The attraction of death and disasters” // London: Thomson Cengage Learning. Continuum 2000, 184 p.
4. Seaton T. “Guided by the dark: from thanatopsis to thanatourism”// The . . . International Journal of Heritage Studies No. 2, 1996, p. 234–244.
5. Bugry E. “On terminology and typology of gloomy tourism”. All about tourism: tourist library // [Electronic resource]: URL: http://tourlib.net/statti_tourism/bugrij.htm (In Russian, date of access: 25.08.2021)
6. Oxford Dictionary // [Electronic resource]: URL: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/dark-tourism (In Russian, date of access: 27.08.2021)
7. “Black tourism” will be developed in Karabakh // [Electronic resource] URL: https://zerkalo.az/v-karabahe-budut-razvivat-chernyj-turizm/ (In Russian, date of access: 25.12.2021).
8. Black tourism: travel through the darkest pages of history // [Electronic resource] URL: https://bigpicture.ru/chernyj-turizm-puteshestviya-po-samym-mrachnym-stranicam-istorii (In Russian, date of access: 25.08.2021)
9. Black tourism. Guide to attractive places of death // [Electronic resource] URL: https://34travel.me/post/chernyjj-turizm-gajjd-po-prityagatelnym-mestam-smerti (In Russian, date of access: 27.08.2021).