Ambiguity and dilution in Kazakhstan’s Gulag heritage

J. John Lennon, Guillaume Tiberghien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
205 Downloads (Pure)


Kazakhstan is the location of some of the most important Gulag heritage from the Soviet period of domination. However, commemoration, conservation and interpretation of Gulag sites is at best partial, visitation low and the attitude to this element of Kazakh history is ambiguous. This paper considers key heritage sites and museums in Kazakhstan and a qualitative case study approach is adopted based on a combination of interviews with twenty-four key stakeholders involved in the development and operation of Gulag tourism. Direct observations and qualitative document analysis of the major national Gulag museums and other important Gulag heritage sites was also undertaken. This research questions the orthodoxy inherent in the supposed attraction of dark tourism sites and seeks to ascertain why domestic and international visitation remains low given the scale and importance of the Gulag narrative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-482
Number of pages13
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number5-6
Early online date9 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Gulag tourism
  • Gulag heritage
  • dark tourism
  • ambiguity
  • dilution dark heritage
  • Kazakhstan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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