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Substantive and conceptual issues in tourism research: A personal engagement with Southeast Asia

Vol. 11, Supp. 1 (2015), 15–51


The field of tourism studies has generated the same kinds of issues and problems as other multidisciplinary fields of study including area studies. This paper reflects on the progress of tourism research in Southeast Asia from the early 1990s when the field began to gain some momentum. These reflections help chart the ways in which research develops and the reasons that it takes the pathways that it does. Many of the issues which have been addressed recently in debates in area studies, especially with regard to the definition of and rationale for Southeast Asian Studies are also evident in tourism studies and it is worthwhile to compare different multidisciplinary endeavours. The main concerns relate to the definition and rationale of a field of studies in a globalising post-modern world, as well as concerns about methodology, concepts and theories. These issues also require critical observations on recent attempts to move the agenda of tourism research forward, in particular in relation to the sociology of “mobilities.” Instead, the concept of “encounter” is reintroduced as a productive way to think about and analyse tourism activities.

Author’s bio

Victor T. King is currently Adjunct Professor at the Center for Ethnic Studies and Development, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Thailand. He is also Emeritus Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Leeds University, a Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Until July 2012 he served for six years as Executive Director of the White Rose East Asia Centre, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield. He has a wide range of research interests in the sociology and anthropology of Southeast Asia. His recent books include The Sociology of Southeast Asia: Transformation in a Developing Region (Copenhagen: NIAS Press and Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press [2008]; ebook [2011]); with William Wilder The Modern Anthropology of South-East Asia: An Introduction (London: Routledge [2003]; reprinted 2006), and translated into Indonesian asAntropologi Modern Asia Tenggara: Sebuah Pengantar (Yogyakarta: Kreasi Wacana [2012]); and co-edited volumes with Michael Hitchcock and Michael Parnwell,Tourism in Southeast Asia: Challenges and New Directions (Copenhagen: NIAS Press and Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press [2009]; and Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia (Copenhagen: NIAS Press and Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press [2010]); with Park Seung Woo The Historical Construction of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore: ISEAS Press [2013]); with Ploysri Porananond, Rethinking Asian Tourism: Culture, Encounters and Local Response (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing [2014]); and a sole-edited volume UNESCO in Southeast Asia: World Heritage Sites in Comparative Perspective (Copenhagen: NIAS Press [2015]).


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