Unsettling Tourism: Settler Stories, Indigenous Lands, and Awakening an Ethics of Reconciliation

Reconciliation sign This research seeks to address ongoing expressions and effects of settler colonialism through collaborative, multi-site investigations of the relationship between tourism and reconciliation. In Canada, and other settler states, tourism is a powerful social force that can either foster or thwart the establishment and maintenance of respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Evidence suggests that tourism’s violence includes the displacement of Indigenous Peoples from ancestral lands and more subtle practices that “tame” or commodify Indigenous cultures. Studies also show tourism’s capacity to support Indigenous autonomy over land, knowledge, development, language, and cultural change. To date, however, limited research has made the disruption of settler colonialism—or critically articulated hopeful alternatives—through tourism its explicit mandate. To fill this gap, our research will advance philosophical, theoretical, critical, empirical, and pedagogical understandings of tourism and reconciliation. Our objectives and approach take aim at revealing, reflecting upon, and transforming the tourism stories we tell and experience such that respectful and reciprocal relationships are inspired, Indigenous lands and life are recovered or maintained, and settler society and institutions are given tools to shoulder greater responsibility for resisting the many faces of colonialism. Building upon established relationships between academic and Indigenous communities, our team will employ a multiple case study design which will allow us to address existing theoretical frameworks while illuminating the storied contexts of specific case study sites and communities. Underscored by commitments to engage research with and by Indigenous peoples, this project will expand national and international tourism research and teaching founded on commitments to Indigenous Rights, justice, and collaboration.

This research will marshal a broad array of benefits while establishing Canada as a leader in critical tourism research for reconciliation. Our study will augment Indigenous community research capacities and efforts to maintain cultural narratives and values. Knowledge mobilization activities—including creative community exhibits, short stories, and publications—will further legitimize Indigenous knowledges and relationships to land among academic, tourism, and public audiences. Tourism related experiences in the form of knowledge exchange land camps will be established to model respectful relationships, co-learning, and institutional cooperation in support of Indigenizing settler spaces (e.g., post-secondary education). Students on our team will develop leading edge talent to address contemporary social challenges, while other students will gain knowledge about research processes and findings as applicants incorporate information into courses. Finally, tourism educators and scholars across the globe will benefit as research findings are synthesized into an open-access collection of teaching resources and moral theoretical innovations designed to unsettle settler stories of tourism.

This research is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant, 2018-2023.

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Project members: 
Principle Investigator
Co-Investigator
Collaborator
Co-Investigator
Co-Investigator
Research Assistant
Research Assistant
Co-Investigator
Research Assistant
Last updated: May 10, 2019

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