An interesting book caught my eye this week written about the industry of ghost tourism which is neatly defined as ‘any form of leisure or travel that involves encounters with or the pursuit of knowledge of the ghostly or haunted’ (Hanks, 2015: 13). Michele Hanks’ Haunted Heritage is located at 306.4819 han on the first floor and covers the subject of commercial and non-profit ghost walks. So-called dark tourism has really taken off in recent years, with several students over the past few years writing dissertations about the topic (even Lincoln offers its own ghost walk). I have no doubt that a few tourism and events students will find this book interesting. Naturally there is caution surrounding this area, particularly in academic circles, as Hanks (2015, 177) suggests that there is no certainty that a ‘ghost haunts a particular site’ and ‘it is always a matter of belief, speculation, or legend’. Not known to be staunch believer himself ( il n’y a pas de hors-texte, “there is no outside-text”), French Algerian philosopher Jacques Derrida (1994, 11 cited in Hanks, 2015) reiterated this position when he famously outlined academic convention after observing that:
‘there has never been a scholar who really, and as a scholar, deals with ghosts. A traditional scholar does not believe in ghosts – nor in all that could be called the critical space of spectrality. There has never been a scholar who, as such, does not believe in the sharp distinction between the real and unreal, the actual and the inactual, the living and the non-living, being and non-being’.
Even if one does not believe in ghosts, it is unquestionable that a thriving ghost tourism industry is alive and well!