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Open AccessArticle

Visiting Dark Murals: An Ethnographic Approach to the Sustainability of Heritage

Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration and Management, Universitat Politècnica de València, 46022 Valencia, Spain
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 677; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020677
Received: 26 November 2019 / Revised: 13 January 2020 / Accepted: 14 January 2020 / Published: 16 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainability of Culture and Heritage)
Political, war-themed and controversial murals aim to show the history of a community, making the intangible tangible, and, because these events are still recent, they stir people’s emotions. Visitors to this type of heritage have a mixture of artistic and dark interests that lead to what we call ‘dark mural attractions’. These political murals need a public strategy to be preserved, become better known and attract local economic development funds to make them sustainable. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to analyse how communities could build a co-narrative around murals to generate a sustainable local development. To achieve this goal, an in depth study needs to be performed to establish what kind of narrative will enable political murals to attract dark visitors and examine how communities can build a sustainable co-narrative around a dark mural. As a case study, we analyse the Battle of Cable Street mural in London, located in the non-touristic borough of Tower Hamlets, by means of an ethnographic qualitative approach based on stakeholders’ opinions, among other sources. In this case, results show that dark murals have the potential to attract visitors, but they require a public strategy for the sustainability of heritage, based on a narrative of community solidarity for educational and discovery purposes.
Keywords: political murals; dark attractions; sustainability of heritage; co-narrative; local economic development; ethnography; identity; culture for sustainable development political murals; dark attractions; sustainability of heritage; co-narrative; local economic development; ethnography; identity; culture for sustainable development
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de-Miguel-Molina, M. Visiting Dark Murals: An Ethnographic Approach to the Sustainability of Heritage. Sustainability 2020, 12, 677.

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