The ruins of Whitby Abbey

The Thrill of the Dark: Heritages of Fear, Fascination and Fantasy 

The Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH) is delighted to be working in partnership with the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage and Management Policy (CHAMP) at the University of Illinois, USA, and the Department of Ethnology at Stockholm University, Sweden, on a new international Conference that will take place in Birmingham from 25-27 April 2019.

Over recent years there has been tremendous interest in ‘dark heritage’ and associated ‘dark tourism’ but still we struggle with the powerful attraction of the darkness, its representation, the thrill it can provide, and the experiences we seek from it. The Thrill of the Dark: Heritages of Fear, Fascination and Fantasy will explore the multiple relationships we have with the concept of darkness with reference to the legacies we create from it. How is the thrill of darkness expressed through the widely framed notion of heritage? How do we experience, negotiate, represent, commodify, valorise or censor the heritages of darkness? What and where is the thrill of the darkness and how is it negotiated across cultures, generations and gender? Why does the dark fascinate us so?

This is the third international Conference organised in partnership between IIICH and CHAMP. Previous Conferences have included the 2015 event Transatlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage: Heritage Tourism and Traditions, which took place in Liverpool, and Heritages of Migration: Moving Stories, Objects and Home, which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in April 2016.

The Conferences offer a cross-disciplinary, and international outlet for the critical exploration of the latest heritage issues, research, and trends. As such we are thrilled to be partnering with Stockholm University on this upcoming event, whose Critical Heritage Studies Network is an important platform for such research.

The Thrill of the Dark Conference forms part of a wider international project entitled ‘Dark Matters’ which aims to shed light on the darkness of the heritages, histories and cultures that cause conflicting emotions.

Initiated in 2015 by three partners: CHSN (Critical Heritage Studies Network, Stockholm University, Sweden), CHAMP and IIICH, the project focuses on histories, heritages, cultures and events that evoke dark associations or feelings. The first Conference under the ‘Dark Matters’ banner took place in 2015 and was entitled ‘Heritage of Death: Landscapes, Sentiment and Practice.’

The Call for Papers for The Thrill of the Dark: Heritages of Fear, Fascination and Fantasy is now open, and we invite researchers from the fullest range of disciplinary perspectives to consider the Conference themes in an open-ended and thought provoking manner. We welcome abstracts of no more than 300 words from colleagues working in anthropology, archaeology, architecture, business, education, English, ethnology, heritage, history, geography, languages, sociology and urban studies.

To view our full Call for Papers, please visit the Conference Website:

To submit a 300 word abstract, please do so through our online submission platform.

The deadline to submit an abstract is 31 October 2018.

For further details about the Conference, please contact the organisers on: