Michael A. Di Giovine is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania (USA), and the Director of the West Chester University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. He is also an Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to teaching introductory courses in cultural anthropology—which he finds greatly rewarding—he teaches courses in museum exhibit design and management, cultural heritage, tourism, religion and Italian/Italian-American culture. He runs West Chester University’s Ethnographic Field School in Perugia, Italy in partnership with the Umbra Institute. Passionate about the transformative qualities of study abroad, Michael is currently engaging in grant-funded research on how to make West Chester University's internationalization programs more sustainable; his volume, Study Abroad and the Quest for an Anti-Tourism Experience, co-edited with John Bodinger de Uriarte, will be published in 2020.  He has served in elected and appointed positions of the American Anthropological Association, and has been active in tourism and heritage studies there. Michael has a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and an A.M. in interdisciplinary Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago with a dissertation examining pilgrimage, heritage and revitalization associated with the Catholic cult of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

Michael’s research in Italy and Southeast Asia lies at the intersection of global mobilities (tourism/pilgrimage, and immigration), heritage, development, foodways, and comparative religious movements.

The author of The Heritage-scape:UNESCO, World Heritage and Tourism, Michael has a longstanding research interest in cultural heritage designation and preservation, particularly as it pertains to UNESCO’s World Heritage program. An expert member of ICOMOS and a consultant for museums and heritage sites, Michael has also served on the American Anthropological Association’s Presidential Task Force on Cultural Heritage, whose work completed in 2015. With task force member Sarah Cowie, he is conducting an expansive research project on operational definitions of “heritage.” Michael is also interested in the ways in which intangible cultural heritage practices surrounding food fosters identity formation and sustainable development. With Ronda Brulotte, he has co-edited Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage. Through his field school, Michael is examining the ways in which sustainable food systems are markers of cultural heritage and identity-building in Central Italy, particularly in the wake of the devastating series of earthquakes in 2016. Michael has spoken widely on the subject of heritage and has been featured multiple times on WBEZ Chicago’s Worldview with Jerome MacDonald.

A former tour operator whose research frequently centers of tourism and pilgrimage, Michael is highly involved in promoting and furthering anthropological tourism research. For the University of Toronto Press, Michael is currently writing the textbook, Tourism: Anthropological Insights. He is also the Convenor of the Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group at the American Anthropological Association, which he helped to found and served as its first Program Chair, coordinating highly visible sessions and events. With a strong belief in the benefits of interdisciplinarity in tourism scholarship, he is a founding member of the Tourism-Contact-Culture Network, sits on the academic board of the International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage, and serves as Book Reviews Editor for both the Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change and Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing. With anthropologist David Picard, he has co-edited Tourism and the Power of Otherness: Seductions of Difference and with architect Josep-Maria Garcia-Fuentes, he has edited a special issue of the International Journal of Tourism Anthropology on “Sites of Pilgrimage, Sites of Heritage.” Recently, he edited a special interdisciplianry issue of Tourism Geographies with Jaeyeon Choe, which has been published in book form as Pilgrimage Beyond the Officially Sacred. With Iranian tourism scholar Mohamad Sharifi-Tehrani, he is co-editing a special open-access issue of the journal, Religions, on "Faith in Spiritual and Heritage Tourism" (winter 2020).

Michael Di Giovine is the series editor of The Anthropology of Tourism: Heritage, Mobilities and Society with Lexington Books (an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield Publishing).

For the past decade, Michael has conducted intensive research on pilgrimage and revitalization in the cult of Catholic stigmatic and saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, known as the “world’s most popular saint.” Traveling with Irish, Italian and American pilgrims, he has conducted ethnography in Pio’s shrine of San Giovanni Rotondo, at his hometown of Pietrelcina, in Boston, and at the National Center for Padre Pio in Barto, PA. Michael enjoys including students in his research whenever possible, and with the generous support of WCU’s Office of Sponsored Research, he brought a team of graduate and undergraduate students to the extraordinary veneration of Pio in the Vatican as part of Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016. The co-editor of The Seductions of Pilgrimage: Sacred Journeys Afar and Astray in the Western Religious Tradition, special journal issues of Tourism: An International, Interdisciplinary Journal on "Pilgrimage: Communitas and Contestation, Unity and Difference," and Tourism Geographies on "Geographies of Religion and Spirituality: Pilgrimage Beyond the Officially Sacred," Michael has written and spoken widely on Padre Pio and pilgrimage, has consulted for the BBC on a documentary on pilgrimage to Padre Pio, and has been featured on Italian TV, Atlas Obscura, the Boston Globe, The Economist, and elsewhere.


 Books: Click on the image for more information

edible identities

*** N E W S  Highlights ***

June 16, 2020: Padre Pio and Pandemics lecture

In the current COVID-19 pandemic, the faithful have been turning to St. Padre Pio—one of the world’s most prayed-to saints—for healing. But did you know that Padre Pio’s ministry was directly connected to our last great worldwide pandemic, the Spanish Flu? In honor of the anniversary of Padre Pio’s canonization on June 16, West Chester University professor and anthropologist, Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine, discusses the connection between St. Pio’s stigmata, the pressures of his early popularity, and the Spanish flu.

June 13, 2020: Webinar: Wellness and Spiritual Tourism in a Post-COVID19 World?

In this webinar, Michael Di Giovine joins panelists from across the world to discuss the future of wellness tourism in Southeast Asia.

April 22, 2020:  Earth Day at 50: Sustainable Exhibition Planning in an Age of Pandemic

In this Sustainability Research Seminar at WCU, Dr. Di Giovine and student co-curators discuss the impacts of COVID-19 and school closures on their upcoming exhibition, Earth Day at 50. An article by West Chester University also details recent developments. The Quad, WCU's student newspaper, had examined the process of making exhibit before the spring semester went online.

February 19, 2020: "Threats to Destroy Cultural Heritage Harms us All"

In an Anthropology News piece, Michael Di Giovine draws on perspectives from 8 Iranian experts to discuss why Presidential Twitter threats to destroy Iranian heritage sites is a bad idea.

December 24, 2019: La Cucina Italiana

In anticipation for one of the biggest holiday celebrations for most Italian-Americans, the venerable cooking magazine La Cucina Italiana has featured an interview with Michael Di Giovine on the significance of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The article also references Di Giovine's autoethnographic work on the subject, which was featured in Food and Foodways (among other sources).

November 12, 2018: Keynote address in Hamedan, Iran for the UN World Tourism Organization

Michael A. Di Giovine delivers keynote address, "Innovation: Potential or Pariah for Sustainable Heritage Tourism" at the 40th Plenary Meeting of Affiliate Members of the United Nations World Tourism Organization in Hamedan, Iran. in which he addresses best practices for engaging in sustainable tourism and preserving cultural heritage, while also warning not to fetishize innovation for innovation's sake. Later that day, he chaired a high-profile panel of international practitioners on the topic of "Innovation: Driving Sustainable Development with Cultural Tourism." With Dr. Mohamad Sharifi from Isfahan, Iran, he also co-organized the special workshop (Nov. 13) on "Managing Spiritual and Heritage Values at Religious Tourism Sites."

September 25, 2018

Anthropologist Michael A. Di Giovine presented the keynote address in September at the European Union-funded conference “Europe and the Orient: Past Encounters, Heritage, and Present-Day Interactions” in Sofia, Bulgaria. In his keynote address, titled “The Seduction or Creation of Otherness? Tourism, the Orient, and UNESCO’s World Heritage Program,” Dr. Di Giovine examined the Orientalist underpinnings of UNESCO’s World Heritage Program, its reliance on the seductive qualities of Otherness, and the ways in which “Europeanness” is engaged with in post-Soviet Eastern Europe.

October 7, 2017

Michael Di Giovine delivers keynote address, "Communicating Heritage Values Through World Heritage Tourism" at the Communicating Heritage conference, Ironbridge World Heritage Site, UK.

September 27, 2017

Michael Di Giovine Delivers Sustainability Lecture on World Sustainable Tourism For Development Day

In honor of the United Nations' World Sustainable Tourism Day on Sept. 27, anthropologist Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine delivered the invited lecture “Can Tourism Be Sustainable? Heritage Preservation and Indigenous Empowerment in an Era of Mass Global Travel” as part of WCU's Office of Sustainability lecture series. The Sustainability Research Seminar features “a dozen WCU scholars from a dozen academic fields presenting their research on topics that deepen our understanding of concepts and applications of environmental, social and economic sustainability.” Dr. Di Giovine spoke on both the pressures of mass tourism—including tourism gentrification and stresses on sustainable use of resources—as well as the opportunities of indigenous empowerment, valorization and awareness-raising that come with tourism development. More detail on the talk can be found in this article in The Quad, WCU's student newspaper.

September 5, 2017

What Should We Do With Difficult Monuments? On September 5, the Anthropology Club hosted a special expert panel on negotiating public history and cultural preservation in the wake of Charlottesville. The engaging discussion featured Dr. Teresita Majewski, Vice President of Statistical Research Inc. and President of the American Cultural Resources Association. Joining her were two WCU professors: Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Convener of the Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group at the American Anthropological Association, and Dr. Janneken Smucker, Associate Professor of History. The panelists discussed the complexities of memorialization and preservation, reminding students that monuments are products of their time and that their meanings and uses change as cultural values change. See a write-up of the event in the student newspaper, The Quad. Video of the Discussion

September 22, 2016

Michael Di Giovine explains the diverse forms of devotion to Catholic saint and stigmatic, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, in an article in the Boston Globe. In honor of the saint’s feast day of September 23, the heart of Padre Pio was extraordinarily sent to Boston for veneration—the first time a bodily relic of Padre Pio has left Italy. Di Giovine offers an explanation of why Boston was chosen.


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Michael Di Giovine's monograph, The Heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage, and Tourism, was published by Lexington Books on November 15, 2008.


 Praise for The Heritage-scape


This is the most thorough and sophisticated examination of the UNESCO heritage system to date. ... Although he examines events and monuments of Southeast Asia, especially Cambodia, and in Italy, especially Tuscany, in ethnographic detail, his knowledge of the heritage-making process is encyclopedic and critical. This is a book to be enjoyed for its timeliness, its revealing anecdotes, and its attention to contemporary social theory.

 - Nelson Graburn, University of California, Berkeley & London Metropolitan University


Debates continue to rage about the economic, political, and socio-cultural significance attached to, and conferred by, the UNESCO designation of "World Heritage." What Michael Di Giovine achieves in this important book, through detailed research and critical theoretical reflection, is grounding these debates in a comprehensive and compelling examination of the motivations, processes, networks, and people which not only shape the meanings of the past but which also project into the future. ... This is clearly an essential book for all interested in the relationships and meanings which lie behind, and are generated by, the notion of World Heritage.

- Mike Robinson, Director, Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, Leeds Metropolitan University

The Heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage and Tourism is a valuable compendium and very useful for those like ourselves who have worked near or in relation to World Heritage Sites. ... The book is worth bringing to people's attention.

- James Fernandez, Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences, University of Chicago
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