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Michael Di Giovine appointed Book Reviews Editor of Journeys

posted Jan 23, 2012, 10:50 AM by Michael Di Giovine

January 23, 2011 -
Michael Di Giovine appointed Book Reviews editor of Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing. While this position begins immediately, Michael will not fully assume responsibilities for reviews until April 2012. However, requests to review titles that deal with travel, travel writing, and tourism/heritage can be sent to a new, dedicated Book Reviews e-mail address: reviews.journeys@gmail.com, effective immediately.

This appointment comes shortly after accepting an invitation to serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, also beginning in January 2012.

Vietnam National University: Question and Answer with Michael Di Giovine

posted Jan 23, 2012, 10:46 AM by Michael Di Giovine

Hanoi, Vietnam -- A Q&A with Michael Di Giovine published in English on Vietnam National University's Asia Research Center website. Just in time for Tet! Chúc mừng năm mới!‏ 

Michael Di Giovine and Pisith Svay (APSARA Authority) lecture at the Centre for Khmer Studies, Siem Reap, Cambodia

posted Dec 27, 2011, 11:30 AM by Michael Di Giovine

December 15, 2011—Michael Di Giovine and Pisith SVAY, Deputy Director of Angkor Tourism Development, an arm of the APSARA Organization, spoke on the current challenges and opportunities of heritage tourism management at the Angkor Archaeological Park to a group of University of Chicago-affiliated travelers visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site. The meeting was kindly hosted by Michael Sullivan, Director of the Centre for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Michael Di Giovine meets with leaders of Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam, to discuss heritage and tourism management issues at the Yen Tu Mountain complex

posted Dec 27, 2011, 11:28 AM by Michael Di Giovine

December 5, 2011—Michael Di Giovine visited Quang Ninh Province to discuss the unique management issues related to designating Yen Tu mountain complex, a national Buddhist pilgrimage destination, as a World Heritage site. He first delivered a lecture entitled, “Turning National Religion into World Heritage: Management Issues for Yen Tu Mountain complex” for 300 government officials, members of the military, and graduate students in the tourism management school before meeting with the Vice Governor of Quang Ninh province and the heads of the relevant provincial ministries.  The meeting was co-organized by Vietnam National University and in association with VNU’s collaborative efforts with the University of Chicago. (Vietamese-language news articles can be found by clicking the hyperlinks in this blurb).

Michael Di Giovine lectures at Vietnam National University, Hanoi

posted Dec 27, 2011, 11:21 AM by Michael Di Giovine   [ updated Dec 27, 2011, 11:31 AM ]

Michael Di Giovine lectures at Vietnam National University, Hanoi.

On December 2, 2011 Michael Di Giovine became the first invited speaker in Vietnam National University’s new international lecturer series, organized through the university’s Asia Research Center. This event also marked deeper collaboration and exchange between the University of Chicago and Vietnam National University, which was formalized earlier this year between the universities' two presidents. Approximately 130 freshmen students in the international studies program attended the English-language lecture on UNESCO’s World Heritage and tourism, and many demonstrated their impressive English skills in an engaging question-and-answer session that followed. More information (in English) can be found at the Center’s website. (http://www.arc.vnu.edu.vn).

Una prima recensione in lingua italiana: The Heritage-scape's first Italian-language review

posted May 18, 2011, 10:55 AM by Michael Di Giovine   [ updated May 18, 2011, 11:31 AM ]

The official journal of the Italian association for teachers of geography, Ambiente, Societa', Territorio (Environment, Society, and Territory) has positively reviewed The Heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage, and Tourism, in an article written by Prof. Stefania Cerruti of the Università del Piemonte Orientale. She concludes: "Written for social scientists and tourism and heritage management professionals, [Di Giovine’s] volume certainly offers a significant contribution to the debate surrounding the relationships and meanings of “world heritage,” as well as to our understanding of the processes of managing, evaluating, and promoting the sites that make up the “UNESCO system,” that reconfigure the testimony made by the past into indispensable resources for imagining and constructing a peaceful, future world order"


An English translation of the entire article will be posted soon!



La revista uffiale dell'associazione italiana insegnanti di geografia, Ambiente, Societa', Territorio, ha appena pubblicato una prima recensione dell'Heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage, and Tourism in lingua italiana, scritta da prof.ssa Cerruti Stefania, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale. Sostiene la Cerruti: "Scritto per studiosi di scenze sociali, per professionisti del turismo e del patrimonio, il volume offer certamente un significativo apporto al dibattito intorno alle relazioni e ai significati che soggiacciono alla nozione di “world heritage,” nonché alla conoscenza di percorsi e processi di gestione, valorizzazione e promozione culturale dei siti che compongono il “sistema UNESCO,” in una prospettiva che ricompone e riconfigura le testimonianze del passato in risorse indispensabili per immaginare un ordine mondiale futuro di pace e contribuire alla sua costruzione."


Per acquistare il libro su www.amazon.it, clicca qui.

Tourism Research as "Global Ethnography"

posted Apr 16, 2011, 5:03 PM by Michael Di Giovine

An essay by Michael A. Di Giovine, posted on Anthropologies, an online collaborative project, makes the case for tourism research to be better integrated into anthropological studies of globalization and mobilites by outlining a number of methodologies for conducting global ethnographies of tourism.

Tourism Research as "Global Ethnography"
Michael A. Di Giovine

Tourism is a topic that has traditionally been treated with great ambivalence in anthropology, particularly compared to related issues such mobility and globalization. This is certainly curious considering that tourism continues to be the largest and fastest-growing industry in the world, even in the post-9/11 environment of terrorism fears and economic recession. This may explain why business schools, hospitality departments and management programs—particularly those outside of the United States—have embraced tourism studies, but it does not explain its relative neglect by, for example, economic anthropologists and others who are concerned with global flows of money, peoples, or information. (To be fair, tourism is so ubiquitous that many of us cannot but deal with the topic, but often in a tangential way). 

Indeed, it is even more curious that Malcolm Crick’s seminal exposé, “Representations of International Tourism in the Social Sciences” (Annual Review of Anthropology 18(1) 1989)—now some 20 years old—still seems relevant today: Crick pointed to a pan-literati prejudice towards tourism, which is often perceived as a (post-)modern bourgeois distortion of more honorable and edifying forms of journeying such as pilgrimage and Grand Tour-era travel (see, for example, Boorstin’s diatribe on tourism in his 1961 classic The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America). It probably doesn’t help that tourists (religious and secular) are often loathe to even consider themselves tourists, and often prefer to mark themselves out as different from the tourist masses. For example, those who walk at least 100 km along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela wear scallop shells to denote themselves as “real” pilgrims, as opposed to the other devotees who come by car or tour bus; and both low-end backpackers and high-end “FITs” (free and independent travelers) often try to avoid popular “tourist trap” destinations by visiting less prized, but presumably more “authentic” sites.

Fortunately, tourism may finally be taking its place as a legitimate realm of anthropological inquiry, if a recent issue of Anthropology News (November 2010) dedicated entirely to the topic is any indication. Articles dealt with heritage appropriation, the representation of material culture, “pro-poor,” community-based, and volunteer tourism, and especially the tourism industry’s growth in developing countries in Asia and Africa. But as classically situated in a particular “field site” as many of these articles were—the Chinese ethnic village, the African archaeological excavation, or, in my case, the World Heritage site of Angkor—it was evident that the field of inquiry was not local, but global.

In light of this, I propose here that anthropology can better embrace tourism’s relevance and dynamicism when research is undertaken as a form of “global ethnography.”

[Continue reading here]

World Heritage Sites: Places of Peace, or of Conflict?

posted Mar 3, 2011, 7:46 AM by Michael Di Giovine

News commentary on Preah Vihear and the Church of the Nativity by Michael A. Di Giovine
from Rowman and Littlefield Blog: http://rowmanblog.typepad.com/rowman/2011/02/world-heritage-sites-places-of-conflict-or-of-peace.html

World Heritage Sites: Places of Conflict, or of Peace?

By Michael A. Di Giovine

UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, particularly those in hotspots of geopolitical conflict, have been in the news this past month. The Wall Street Journal published a photo essay on some of the most recently designated sites. And while the Palestinian Authority reportedly has nominated Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity—believed to be Jesus’ birthplace—to the prestigious World Heritage List, Cambodians and Thais have engaged in bloody shootouts that have left nearly 10 dead over the remote Khmer temple of Preah Vihear. What are these sites and why do they captivate the imaginations, and ideologies, of so many people?

Ratified in 1972, the World Heritage Convention designates local places of historical, cultural, or artistic interest as “universal heritage.” In The Heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage, and Tourism, I argue that this is not empty political maneuvering, but rather a way to foster “peace in the minds of men”, as the Preamble to UNESCO’s Constitution urges, by creating a vast heritage-scape that is bound together by these places of universal significance. Mixing such different sites together, the heritage-scape makes it clear that what unifies all of us is our diversity.

Why do countries agree to “give up” their locality to the universality of the heritage-scape, and adopt the costly regulations UNESCO imposes? Contrary to public belief, a designation does not win the country funding—which is disbursed on a case-by-case basis for training. Rather, these countries respond to the prestige factor associated with site designation.

Just being on the List not only adds value to a nation-state (“we have one of the most important places in the world!”), but allows some of the smallest countries to be counted with the big ones, equating lesser-known monuments like Preah Vihear with popular places such as Venice and Angkor Wat. Without discounting any of the good intensions on the part of the Palestinian Authority, this certainly is a motivating factor: getting on the list means sitting at the same table as other countries; it is one step closer to being recognized as a legitimate state. The fact that Palestine has chosen a (non-Muslim) site important to many Westerners to represent itself on the global stage is therefore no accident; rather, it is a way of claiming to share in Western heritage, and to be its ally rather than its enemy.

While Palestine is betting on a site that is not fully considered “Palestinian” by its people, most World Heritage sites are deeply rooted in the culture and ideology of a nation-state. Many, like Preah Vihear, are claimed by multiple countries. A 9th-century monastery straddling a long-contested portion of the Thai-Cambodian border (its main structure is in Cambodia, but it’s only accessible through Thailand), Preah Vihear was designated for Cambodia in 2008 after a deal was brokered between the now-deposed Thai government of Thaksin Shinawatra and Cambodia’s Hun Sen. The Thai opposition party immediately stoked intense local feelings for Preah Vihear, setting in motion a series of uprisings and coups that toppled Shinawatra’s government and continues to this day.

UNESCO could have handled the situation differently by not attributing an “owner” country to Preah Vihear (like Jerusalem), or, better, by requiring both countries to share the temple (there are already several so-called “transnational sites”). The latter would have the added value of diplomatically illustrating UNESCO’s peacemaking claims of “unity in diversity.” Provided it joins the World Heritage Convention, the Palestinian Authority’s request can provide UNESCO with a second chance to truly foster peace diplomatically; let’s hope the Church of the Nativity fares better than Preah Vihear—it has unfortunately seen enough combat already.

Michael A. Di Giovine is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of anthropology at the University of Chicago, a former tour operator, and the author of The Heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage, and Tourism. He is currently researching heritage, pilgrimage and cultural revitalization associated with the cult of Catholic saint and stigmatic, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.


Journal of Heritage Tourism praises "innovative" monograph

posted Dec 6, 2010, 8:14 PM by Michael Di Giovine   [ updated Dec 6, 2010, 8:43 PM ]

Calling Di Giovine's The Heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage and Tourism an "innovative ethnography," a new review from the Journal of Heritage Tourism directs readers' attention to his theory of the dual "field of heritage production" and "field of touristic production" that overlap at World Heritage sites. "This book is a substantial monograph concerned with the interface between heritage and tourism," the reviewer, Chin-Ee Ong at Macao's Institute for Tourism Studies, writes. "Using his position as a travel agency operator, Di Giovine's work is successful in bringing to the fore the contingent, negotiated, and at times marginalising nature of World Heritage and mass tourism that happens in World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia. Of significance is his observation of the work of UNESCO beyond a designatory or list-making regime, and as a global ordering and placemaking process aimed at creating a peaceful transnational cultural utopia. ... All in all, this is an exciting contribution to the field of heritage and tourism studies."

Acquistate il libro, The Heritage-scape, facilmente in Italia ora!

posted Nov 23, 2010, 8:08 PM by Michael Di Giovine

Si e' inaugurato il sito, www.amazon.it dove si puo' acquistare facilmente The Heritage-scape in Italia.

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