School of Social Sciences

Inaugural Lecture tackles the Tourism-Migration Nexus

Professor Sabine Marschall delivers her Inaugural lecture at the Westville campus.
Professor Sabine Marschall delivers her Inaugural lecture at the Westville campus.

Professor Sabine Marschall of the School of Social Sciences recently presented her inaugural lecture at the Senate Chamber at the Westville campus.

Her lecture titled ‘The Tourism-Migration Nexus: Memory, Mobility and the Limits of Academic Disciplines’, presented thoughts and insights from her empirical and conceptual research around the tourism-migration nexus, referencing cases of diasporic tourism, transnationalism, migrant return travel, ‘homesick tourism’ and even the clandestine cross-border home visits of refugees.

‘The increasing intersection between tourism, migration and other forms of travel prompt many scholars to question established definitions and disciplinary boundaries. John Urry’s influential ‘mobility paradigm’ opened up new avenues of research, but did ultimately not effect substantial change in the academic field (if not discipline) of tourism studies,’ argued Marschall.

‘How we define and conceptualize tourism essentially determines what kind of questions can be asked and what types of journeys will become the subject of research and analysis.’

Marschall highlighted the contribution of two elements to the international scholarship in the field, an empirical focus on Africa and an analytical focus on memory. Advocating the utility of the interdisciplinary field of memory studies, the lecture further illustrated how collective memories of home and ancestral roots, as well as personal autobiographic and episodic memories inspire various forms of diasporic mobility, which may or may not be called ‘tourism’.

Marschall believes that far too little is known about the mobility patterns of migrants and almost nothing about those of forcibly displaced people. This, she feels, is something that needs to be investigated further.

‘Disciplinary boundaries and institutionalization are both epistemologically enabling and constraining. It is important to conduct research on the margins – both of society and academic disciplines. New academic fields like Cultural & Heritage Tourism emerge at the fault lines of established scholarly discourses and institutional structures,’ said Marschall.

‘Empirical research in the African context and the developing world allows us to challenge many conceptualizations developed by Western academics based on research in Western societies.

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