The critical turn in tourism studies: Creating an academy of hope edited by Irena Ateljevic, Nigel Morgan, and Annette Pritchard , Routledge , London and New York , 2012 , xl + 234 pp., cloth $135.00 ( ISBN 9780415585521 )

This book builds on a previous volume, The critical turn in tourism studies: Innovative research methodologies(2007), which laid the groundwork for using criticality to challenge dominant (post)positivist approaches in tourism research. The authors of this text set out to further the debate by exploring how critical tourism inquiry can elicit societal transformation, specifically through connecting policy and practice to tourism education that is mindful, value-led, and humanist in scope. Similarly to the first volume, the authors offer a breadth of disciplinary and international perspectives, ranging from graduate students to experts in English-speaking academe and practice.

The collection is organized in three parts. Part I (Chapters One to Four) centres on the importance of conceptual developments and innovative methodologies in tourism research, including critical emotionality and positionality, knowledge production, and reflexivity. Part II (Chapters Five to Nine) carefully details the multi-faceted role that educators play in fostering ethical, informed, and responsible graduates, and explores the student experience. The final part (Chapters 10 to 14) focuses on alternative economic practices and provides colourful case studies from countries such as Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Israel, and the Netherlands to illustrate how tourism can serve as a vehicle for social justice and change.

Co-editor Annette Pritchard maintains that, despite the proliferation of tourism and hospitality-related journals and programs at universities and colleges, the field has been heavily criticized for its ontological, epistemological, and methodological shortcomings. Chapters One to Four speak specifically to this lack of rigour and help fill the chasm. Nazia Ali's essay validates the practice of personal reflexivity in qualitative research as she unpacks the feelings she experienced during her interpretive ethnographic PhD fieldwork with members of her own ethnic (Pakistani) community in the UK. Addressing his personal shift from academic observer to engaged activist, Chaim Noy analyses how tourism discourses and practice can be used to promote and perpetuate hegemonic political objectives at a Jewish heritage site and national park in Israel's Occupied East Jerusalem, and demonstrates what local grassroots organizations are doing to promote an inclusive, anti-colonial view.

For all its merits, this collection contains some drawbacks. Alexander Grit and Paul Lynch's study of Hotel Transvaal warrants a more detailed description of how the hotel operates. The authors rather emphasize what Hotel Transvaal “does” than “is” (p. 212). A glaring omission from this book is the issue of environmental ethics. As demonstrated throughout the essays, human stakeholders are responsible for inducing change. Yet in order for educators and researchers to truly challenge hegemonic tourism practices, the dialogue must extend beyond the narrow limits of socio-economic well-being of communities. Scholars such as Macbeth (2005) recognize the need to adopt a non-anthropogenic—even ecocentric—ethic. This construct requires altering our current belief system in “a rationalized, scientific and externalized view of nature” to embracing one that is “more inclusive and spiritual” (Holden 2003, 105).

Overall, this is a timely book that moves the conversation forward with a robust mix of insightful questions and reflections, fresh methodologies, and practical case studies. While it is not always an easy read, it would be most useful to upper year undergraduate and graduate students, researchers, and academics in tourism and hospitality studies.


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  2. References
  • Ateljevic, I., A. Pritchard, and N. Morgan, eds. 2007. The critical turn in tourism studies: Innovative research methodologies . Amsterdam : Elsevier.
  • Holden, A. 2003. In need of new environmental ethics for tourism Annals of Tourism Research 30(1): 94108.
  • Macbeth, J. 2005. Towards an ethics platform for tourism. Annals of Tourism Research 32(4): 962984.