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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Anthropology of travel and tourism A

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2015/2016
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 1

The course aims to (a) place the anthropological study of travel and tourism within in a general anthropological context (b) explore the historical roots of contemporary tourism (c) identify some of the classical issues in social theory that have influenced the development of the subject and assess what contribution tourism studies are making to contemporary theoretical debates (d) establish the primacy in the anthropology of travel tourism of good ethnography (e) ground the course in awareness of the global political economy of travel and tourism (f) draw out the policy implications of the subject  and critically to evaluate the work of those who have ‘intervened’ (as consultants and advisors to governments and/or international agencies, for example) in tourism strategy or policy (g) develop understanding of consumerism and commodification in capitalist societies – especially with regard to tourist related spaces and places.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate that they have the abilities to:

  1. Understand the scope of the anthropology of travel and tourism.
  2. Confidently to navigate through the historical and geographical landscapes in which travel and tourism developed and to link this with the ways in which the anthropology of travel and tourism as an academic field was historically constituted.
  3. Compose a field research project with tourism as a dominant theme and/or to understand where tourism fits into ethnographic field research.
  4. Call upon the work of others such as cultural geographers, historians, and development studies specialists and/but to draw out the distinctions between the work of such colleagues and that of anthropologists.
  5. Comprehend and critically analyse policy documents in the tourism field and to engage with those working in the tourism industry.  
  6. Make intelligent forecasts about future directions of the field.


11 weeks - I hour lecture and 2 hour seminar/tutorials per week

Method of assessment

One unseen written paper -70%
One essay - 30% (3000 words)

Suggested reading

  • Bouquet, M. and M. Winter, 1987, Who From Their Labours Rest? Conflict and practice in rural tourism, Aldershot, Avebury.
  • Bruner, EM. 2005, Culture on Tour: Ethnographies of travel, Chicago,
    University Press.
  • Burns, P. 1999, An Introduction to Tourism and Anthropology, London, Routledge.
  • Cohen, E. 1979a. ‘Rethinking the Sociology of Tourism’. ATR 6(1):18-35.
  • Cohen, E. 1979b. “A phenomenology of tourist experiences”. Sociology
  • Cohen, E. 1973. ‘Nomads from Affluence: Notes on the Phenomenon of
    Drifter Tourism’. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 14(1-
  • Cohen, E. 1972. ‘Towards a Sociology of International Tourism’.
    Social Research 39:164-82.