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Frontiers of tourism

Aux frontières du tourisme

International meeting of young researchers in tourism

Rencontres internationales des jeunes chercheurs en tourisme

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Published on Tuesday, April 04, 2017


The event aims to allow young researchers to share their views about their productions with experienced researchers. This study proposes several areas of research: temporal frontiers of tourism; spatial frontiers of Tourism; new practices at the frontiers of tourism; from new actors to new frontiers in tourism; disciplinary frontiers within tourism studies.




Tourism in its actual form questions frontiers on various ways. As an unnecessary phenomenon (Urbain, 2011) which is particularly indicative of our society, it touches upon a range of practices deployed in space and time and involves various actors who interact within or beyond their cultural frames. For a long time, tourism has been examined from multiple disciplinary perspectives (geography, economy, sociology, etc.) and seems to be a familiar object for social sciences. However, it is far from an immutable phenomenon that changes and is continually reinvented, according to our societies' evolutions, aspirations, and interests of the individuals that shaped them, as well as territories where tourism takes place. Key elements usually contributing to tourism definition such as time, space, practices, actors and cultures are indeed in mutation, thus challenging the limits between categories that define a constantly changing phenomenon. In this regard, a recently observed tendency is that of an affirmation of post-tourism as theorized by John Urry (1995), consisting of a difficulty to distinguish between tourism in its classic sense and everyday life because of their organic interrelation. Which invites us to question the limit between tourism activities on the one hand, which are supposed to be extraordinary, and everyday activities. In our

daily lives, as well as in geography, the term « frontier » has multiple meanings. In the military vocabulary, it refers to a contact zone with enemy forces - front -; but it also has a political sense referring to a state's territory limit based on natural obstacles or arbitrary decisions. It is more generally a dividing line between two different entities that it separates. However and far from necessarily meaning a closure, frontiers mark a discontinuity also permitting exchanges. Finally, it refers in the figurative sense to spaces to discover or conquer and so to the different steps taken in human knowledge.

Questioning the frontiers of tourism thus implies for young searchers to be interested in the limits between tourism and non-tourism about the elements that structure this phenomenon. The point is, on the one hand, to try and delineate this multi-dimensional, complex and in perpetual mutation object. This must be done regarding space, time, actors as well as cultures. On the other hand, it would be interesting to explore the polysemy of « frontier,» as the term has a heuristic value. It prompts researchers to engage with liminal situations or in other words with limits of their research object, while at the same time encouraging them to take an interest in contact zones with other topics. Indeed, if frontiers are sometimes based on observable facts (« natural » frontiers), they may also be based on arbitrary assumptions (artificial borders), the questioning of which allows reaching new spaces of research. Finally, the theme of frontiers of tourism also touches disciplinary limits as well as limits of the means deployed to analyze this complex phenomenon.


The event aims to allow young researchers to share their views about their productions. This study proposes several areas of research:

Axis 1: Temporal frontiers of tourism

Temporal thresholds usually define tourism. This latter waver between immediacy and long-term (more than one day, less than a year), the ephemeral (fast travel) or the will to last (Slow Travel: Fullagar and Markwell, 2012). Whether it is slow travel, backpacking, flashpacking or push packing, temporality is central in the apprehension of the touristic phenomenon. It entails other concepts: it is spatial, but also administrative (visa duration), cultural (the perception of time is different according to cultures), economic (choice between work and leisure), digital (augmented reality, mobility), etc. Tourism seems to be part of a temporal break and propels tourists into an out-of-time universe, a new space "characterized by the passage of time-alienation (captive time, required for work or life) and time-distance (more often, it is the repetitive transportation time) to time-substance (enjoying the flow of time is a goal and a pleasure in itself) "(Languillon-Aussel, Geo confluences, 4 February 2011).

The tourist sometimes seems to defy time: he takes, accelerates and changes time while the latter becomes increasingly independent in opposition to the time imposed by the mass tourism industry. It is thus a chosen time and not a suffered one, a time in which one enjoys the freedom and controls the beginning and the end. Besides, Tourism is becoming more and more a part of everyday life, thus introducing a new "post-touristic" era (Condevaux, Djament-Tran, Gravari-Barbas, 2016) in which the ordinary gives way to the extraordinary (Girard, 2013) and vice versa.

This raises the question of trajectories and evolutions: free time is not tourism by essence, but can become and can cease to be. The renewal of tourist forms, observed especially in the Northern countries which create the phenomenon in its modern form, inducing a new relation to time whose management, in urban areas, in particular, include the investment of new temporalities as well as the control of space and the development of adapted practices. Do these new temporalities not question the traditional thresholds of tourism? What is time today in regards to Tourism and the Tourist?

Axis 2: Spatial Frontiers of tourism

While it had previously been seen as limited to spaces known as ‘touristic' and on which touristic attendance focused, tourism today questions the spatial frontiers that were part of its definition. There is a gradual diversification in the spaces concerned by practices and actors about tourism. In addition to touristic hot spots whose valorisation is based on their exceptionality, so-called ordinary places now emerge among touristic spaces. Their attractivity is paradoxically based on the absence of any outstanding aspect. Touristification in these areas can be explained as the consequence of a diffusion process allowed by the proximity to well-known touristic places. The case of european metropolises with their gentrified former working-class neighborhoods now being attractive for tourists is an example (Maitland, 2010; Novy, 2011; Gravari-Barbas, 2015). This can also take place following the invention of touristic places such as theorized by Rémy Knafou (Knafou, 1991), as for the case of rural proximity tourism, where touristification is governed by the change of perception of these spaces. It can also take root in an inversion of the negative images attached to a place. Examples here could be the former steel regions in French Lorraine (Fagnoni, 2004) or the Haut-de-France coalfield. Whatever the modality of the touristification, this dynamic in ordinary spaces contributes to a growing porosity between touristic and non-touristic spaces. This calls us to rethink the way tourism is set in, and participate to the structuration of, space. Which are these new tourism spaces ? How do they become touristic? Which consequences does developing tourism economy have on the political and social organization as well as on usual practices linked to these spaces? Studying tourism spatial frontiers also requires a reflexion on tourism decrease, a phenomenon that can lead to the shrinking of tourism areas (Knafou, 1996; Equipe MIT, 2011). Dynamics of renewal of the tourism function, of functional diversification or of phasing out of tourism are then taking place. They all question the spatial recompositions at work. Why and how does a space suffer a decrease in tourism? What are the strategies set up to accompany or to fight this process? What are the possible territorial paths for theses spaces?

Axis 3: New practices at the frontiers of tourism

Several phrases highlight the growing diversification of tourist practices: post-tourism (Urry, 1995), off-the-beaten-track tourism (Maitland, Newmann, 2009; Gravari-Barbas, Delaplace, 2015), alternative tourism (Breton, 2009; Butler, 1990, 1992; Stephen, 2004) and many others point out the convergence between tourism and daily practices.

On the one hand, the search for experiences considered authentic and the desire to live within the place visited in such a way as its inhabitants bring into question the strict delimitation of these different types of practices. On the other hand, the diversification of tourism patterns (dark tourism, ecotourism, etc.), characterized by varied interests, motivations, and imaginaries such as ecological awareness or a logic of distinction, also relates to a diversification of practices.

This leads to a "dilution" of tourism practices within a larger spectrum, which boundaries are difficult to draw. Therefore, how can we distinguish a tourist practice from other types of practices, such as shopping, leisure or sport? How to characterize these new types of tourist practices and their hybridization? If the traveler is defined by his non-daily posture and practices, how can we identify the visitor whose practices aim to get closer to the daily life of the places they experience? Does this evolution of practices lead to a redefinition of tourism itself?

Axis 4: From new actors to new frontiers in tourism

The development of methods is followed by an evolution of tourism involved players. From a tourism sector which is already composed of clearly identified professional actors, we move on to a more diverse set of actors, both in their professional nature and in their objectives. In particular, civil society actors (start-ups, enterprises such as Airbnb, associations and non-market communities (Couchsurfing), inhabitants, etc.) are considered in a context in which the growth of NICT and the sharing economy promotes the involvement of non-tourism actors in putting tourism in ordinary places. The idea of participatory tourism which is seeking to involve local communities and encouraging the interactions between tourists and the latter reveals this evolution (Coquin, 2008). In addition to supporting interactions between tourists and locals who are often excluded from the tourist system (women, isolated villages, etc.), it aims at a new redistribution of income from tourism to the benefit of the local population, not professional operators. Furthermore, many individual and collective initiatives are undertaken by new players outside the tourism system. They can offer services that have disappeared (bagkeepers replacing the station instructions) but are sometimes captivated by traditional companies. In this context, can we still distinguish between tourism actors and non-tourist actors? Who are the new players who question the traditional boundaries between tourist and non-tourist sectors, and what are their characters? Are their initiatives necessarily only a step or do they indicate a real change in the tourism system? What are the implications of these new actors for tourism?

Axis 5: Cultural Frontiers in tourism

Bringing together the notions of frontiers, culture, and tourism, inevitably raises some major issues, not least because of the apparently inextricable relation linking them. Indeed, isn’t it true that any form of tourist practice includes a frontier and cultural dimension, since it deals, by definition, with "people moving to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or professional purposes "(UNWTO definition)?

Over the last decade, the scientific and professional communities in the tourism field have seen the emergence of « cultural tourism ». A concept understood as a sub-segment of tourism and defined by the WTO as a "movement of people mainly driven by social motivations such as study trips, artistic tours, and educational travel. In addition to going to festivals or other cultural events, visits to sites and monuments, travel dedicated to nature discovery, the study of folklore or art, and pilgrimages ". Thus, « cultural tourism » could be considered a form of tourism specifically centered on the discovery of a place's cultural heritage and, by extension, the customs of its inhabitants.

So why stress the importance of the cultural dimension in tourism? Can it be related to the possible harmful effects of mass tourism, which jeopardizes local cultures and traditions, while overlooking any frontier? One could imagine that the cultural edge in tourism may revive the noble idea upon which it is based, namely the authentic encounter and discovery made by the traveler of the "stranger," the ‘'exotic’’ just as it is. However, it may also foster tensions over a place’s identity, reinforcing inward-looking behaviors, and generating new symbolic, physical and political boundaries. Therefore, one could wonder to what extent does the growing hybridization of the tourist phenomenon (proximity tourism, tourism of "ordinary" places, "touristic narrative" etc.) eventually bring into question the relevance of the cultural frontier in a post-modern era?

Axis 6: Disciplinary boundaries within tourism studies

Tourism becomes a scientific area of research in the 70's and is characterized by the complexity and heterogeneity of its components. In the 19th century, tourism was the privilege of the European elite (Bertho-Lavenir, 1999; Boyer, 2005), whereas nowadays, this globalized phenomenon has become a structural feature of society that presents a wide variety of practices, places, and individuals with their different systems of representations. Those are occurring in a particular temporality, space, economy, political context. So much so that the tourist (Darbellay and Stock, 2012) seems able to seep into each aspect of our societies. Social scientists have to face this multidimensional setting when studying it, which raises several problems. First of all, one of the difficulties in studying the tourist phenomenon is related to the precise delimitation of the object, between what is a tourist and what is not. On the other hand, the heterogeneousness of the tourist object implies different theoretical and methodological tools to comprehend it and to show its complexity and the interweaving at multiple layers of society. The history the study of tourism as a scientific object follows different trends: it has become a sub-field in social sciences (sociology of tourism, geography of tourism, anthropology of tourism, etc.); it splits and is put together again in multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary dynamics; finally, some researchers would like to establish tourism as an autonomous discipline (Jovicic, 1975; Stafford, 1988; Hoerner, 2002). Those different dynamics, which are also taking place in other fields, are particularly salient in the case of tourism and question the malleability of disciplinary frontiers. How the study of tourism invites us to think and reconsider the boundaries of disciplines, to show its complexity? How the characteristics of the object encourage researchers to decompartmentalize knowledge? Finally, is this an obstacle or an opportunity to create a dialogue between disciplines, which can be a source of innovation regarding concepts and methodologies for social sciences?

This event aims to give an opportunity to junior researchers to meet, present and share their work with peers and more experienced researchers. Ph.D. candidates and junior researchers are highly encouraged to answer this call. Young researchers in disciplines related to the tourism field are invited to participate.

How to participate

There are several ways to contribute to this event. First of all, one can offer a presentation followed by a discussion with the audience. On the other hand, exhibitions, posters, and projections are also appreciated.

  • To offer a presentation, please send a summary (500 words) and a résumé

before May, 14th

to the organizing committee by e-mail at rijct2017@gmail.com

  • To provide an exhibition or other contributions, please send a selection of pictures with captions and a résumé

before May, 14th

to the organizing committee by e-mail at rijct2017@gmail.com

Participants will receive an answer in May.

After the notification of selection, participants will be asked to send an extended summary (1000 words) and the PDF document of posters and exhibitions before July 16th, at the same e-mail address: rijct2017@gmail.com

For each contribution, please precise:

  • First name and LAST NAME, institution (University or laboratory),e-mail address
  • Selected kind of input (presentation, poster, pictures, projection) and type(s) of frontier approached, the title of the contribution, summaries, and keywords (3 to 5)

have to be sent in the format: Word, Arial, line spacing 1,5, in French or English.

Selected contributions will be gathered together in a single document (paper and digital format), and made available for participants at the event. More information will be given after the selection of the contributions. Please contact the organizing committee for details.

Scientific committee

  • Philippe BACHIMON, Université d'Avignon
  • Philippe BOURDEAU, Université Grenoble-Alpes
  • Amandine CHAPUIS, Université Paris - Sorbonne
  • Sophie CHEVALIER, Université de Picardie Jules Verne
  • Francesca COMINELLI, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
  • Aurélie CONDEVAUX, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
  • Saskia COUSIN, Université Paris Descartes
  • Frédéric DARBELLAY, Université de Genève
  • Édith FAGNONI, Université Paris Sorbonne
  • Alain GIRARD, Université de Perpignan
  • Maria GRAVARI-BARBAS, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
  • Yannick HASCOET, Université de Lyon
  • Sébastien JACQUOT, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
  • Emmanuelle LALLEMENT, Université Paris - Sorbonne, Ministère de la Culture
  • Anne-Cécile MERMET, Université de Neuchâtel
  • Emmanuelle PEYVEL, Université de Bretagne Occidentale
  • Mathis STOCK, Université de Lausanne
  • Jean-Michel TOBELEM, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne


  • Paris, France (75)


  • Sunday, May 14, 2017


  • tourisme, interdisciplinaire, frontière


  • Comité d'organisation RIJCT 2017
    courriel : rijct2017 [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Céline Tastet
    courriel : rijct2017 [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Frontiers of tourism », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, April 04, 2017, https://doi.org/10.58079/xat

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