Tales from the Haunted South

Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era

By Tiya Miles

176 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 11 halftones, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3614-6
    Published: August 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2634-5
    Published: August 2015
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5065-2
    Published: August 2015

Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era

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In this book Tiya Miles explores the popular yet troubling phenomenon of "ghost tours," frequently promoted and experienced at plantations, urban manor homes, and cemeteries throughout the South. As a staple of the tours, guides entertain paying customers by routinely relying on stories of enslaved black specters. But who are these ghosts? Examining popular sites and stories from these tours, Miles shows that haunted tales routinely appropriate and skew African American history to produce representations of slavery for commercial gain. "Dark tourism" often highlights the most sensationalist and macabre aspects of slavery, from salacious sexual ties between white masters and black women slaves to the physical abuse and torture of black bodies to the supposedly exotic nature of African spiritual practices. Because the realities of slavery are largely absent from these tours, Miles reveals how they continue to feed problematic "Old South" narratives and erase the hard truths of the Civil War era. In an incisive and engaging work, Miles uses these troubling cases to shine light on how we feel about the Civil War and race, and how the ghosts of the past are still with us.

About the Author

Tiya Miles is Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan.
For more information about Tiya Miles, visit the Author Page.


“Imagery portrayed within each story . . . will keep readers on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the next sentence, waiting to hear how each narrative plays out.”—Choice

“Shines a valuable light on how we feel about the Civil War and race, and on how the ghosts of the past are still with us.”—North Carolina Historical Review

“A page-turner. . . . Should serve as a call to historic sites to undertake the hard work of telling complex stories about the past that enable visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of African American lives under slavery. . . . Highly recommend[ed] . . . to public historians, scholars of slavery and its current-day legacies, and anyone interested in the gothic South." —Journal of Southern History

"In her captivating exploration of southern ghost tours, Tiya Miles shows how spirits act as guides to a troubled American past and how they continue to raise the specter of slavery today. This absorbing book confirms that no matter how hard we try, we can’t quite keep the past buried like we used to." —Stephen Berry, University of Georgia

"Investigating southern fright culture, Tiya Miles uncovers the connections between antebellum nostalgia, African American history, and mystical ideas about slavery. Stories of Voodoo queens and scorned lovers fuel this dark-tourist industry, while the author sets the record straight. Readers will find it impossible to put this book down." —Daina Ramey Berry, University of Texas at Austin