Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Journal of Sustainable Tourism

For a Special Issue on

Reaffirming Ethnography for Sustainable Tourism

Abstract deadline
30 April 2024

Manuscript deadline
30 September 2024

Cover image - Journal of Sustainable Tourism

Special Issue Editor(s)

Paolo Mura, Zayed University, UAE
[email protected]

Catheryn Khoo, Torrens University, Australia
[email protected]

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Reaffirming Ethnography for Sustainable Tourism

Warning: This proposal deliberately cites work produced exclusively by non-White scholars to problematise the Western colonial ethnographic gaze and disrupt the current politics of citation.


Ethnography is one of the main methodological approaches to co-construct and represent tourist realities. Driven by the pursuit of a deep understanding of social phenomena and cultural groups, ethnography necessitates researchers to spend extended periods in specific locations and partake in intense reflective journeys, which are accompanied and followed by lengthy times for writing and representing, often not unproblematically (see Salo, 2010), co-produced realities. As a form of inquiry exploring cultural groups ‘in situ’ (namely in their natural environments), ethnography is deeply entrenched in the specific places and spaces where phenomena occur. As such, it is a powerful tool to explore the role of tourism on environmental and socio-cultural systems and, subsequently, shed light on sustainable and regenerative tourist practices. Overall, ethnography could promote sustainable forms of tourism by fostering participative practices that involve local communities in every step of research processes concerning tourism development. It may do so by considering and valuing the multiple voices representing a community alongside the values and needs of groups of stakeholders. Due to the longitudinal nature of fieldwork, ethnography represents a resource to scrutinise tourism impacts, the environmental and socio-cultural implications induced or shaped by tourism, and host-guest relations over long periods. This aspect is vital as tourism impacts may not manifest within short periods. Moreover, it may offer crucial insights to develop and implement policies that minimise tourist impacts and maximise environmental and community benefits.


The tourism literature provides multiple examples of studies employing this method (de Santana Pinho, 2018; Guerrón Montero, 2017; Romy & Dewan, 2020; Tavakoli, 2015; Williams, 2018) alongside doctoral theses, books, chapters and articles debating its approaches and issues (Amoamo, 2018; Dewan, 2018; Files-Thompson, 2012; Guerrón Montero, 2020; Zhang, 2018). However, in the past 15 years, various occurrences have problematised and jeopardised some of the traditional practices underpinning the conduct of ethnographic journeys. The 2019 COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent global restrictions on physical mobility have temporarily halted the possibility of first-hand involvement and interaction in the field (Mwambari, Purdeková, & Bisoka, 2022). In the aftermath of the pandemic, virtual meetings have become ubiquitous, leading to the preference for online data collection. Moreover, current academic power structures, which value hyper-productivity and quantitative metrics over time-consuming qualitative approaches and reflexivity (Wijesinghe, 2020), may not encourage scholars to undertake lengthy fieldwork. Academic writing and publishing practices, which favour journal articles over books (traditionally the main form to represent ethnographies), may also be at odds with scholars intending to write ethnographically (see Ondari-Okemwa, 2007, for a broader debate about the issues of academic publishing). The rise of cyberworlds and the advent of netnography have partly contributed to overcoming some of the problems related to ethnographic production (Tavakoli, 2016). Despite this, whether and how, under current technological developments, netnography could represent an alternative to ethnography in terms of providing deeply immersive experiences and trustful relationships between researchers and participants is open to debate. Without minimising the significant future developments of netnography and its role in complementing ethnography, current netnographic studies in tourism have not embraced the array of opportunities beyond Web 2.0 (Tavakoli & Wijesinghe, 2019). Alongside the abovementioned concerns, the spectre of colonial power structures underpinning ethnography and the need to unsettle an ethnographic tradition characterised by Western centrism (Kāwika Tengan, 2005) should be reiterated within tourism academia.


Against this background, this special issue calls for papers employing and engaging with ethnography to reaffirm the importance of ethnography and giving voice to scholars conducting ethnographies concerning tourism in general and tourism sustainability in particular. Overall, the belief underpinning this proposed special issue lies in recognising the nexus between sustainable tourism and ethnography alongside the need to promote more participative and immersive research practices among the various tourism stakeholders. More specifically, this issue seeks to collect work intersecting one or more of the following aspects concerning the co-construction and representation of ethnographies in tourism:

  • Theoretical and methodological papers that advance our understanding of ethnography in tourism and its role in promoting sustainable and regenerative forms of tourism
  • Empirical papers that employ and engage with ethnography in tourism by showing deep engagement, reflexivity and thick descriptions of fieldwork
  • Papers that problematise the nexus between ethnography and sustainable tourism
  • Papers that problematise ethnography and its colonial traditions
  • Papers that integrate traditional and less traditional methods and approaches to ethnography (e.g., ethnographies employing netnography, visual methods, alternative forms of interviews and participant observation, digital diaries, autoethnography, theatre, dance, art)
  • Ethnographic papers from the Global South or ethnographic papers from the Global North that disrupt the ethnographic Western gaze
  • Traditional (textual) and less conventional ethnographic representations complementing texts (e.g., performance texts, ethnodrama, ethnotheatre, visual and embodied representations through artistic production)
  • Collaborative ethnographies between the Global South and Global North that value and showcase the benefits and issues of having multiple ethnographers in the field and text
  • Ethnographies driven by a critical tourism stance that values praxis and benefits for the cultural group considered
  • Autoethnographic studies in tourism sustainability
  • Any other paper referring to other aspects of ethnography and sustainable tourism.

Submission Instructions

Expressions of interest are welcome in the form of an extended abstract (1,000 words excluding references) by 30 April 2024 to be sent to the SI guest editors, Paolo Mura ([email protected]) and Catheryn Khoo ([email protected]).


Abstracts should include the title, author(s) & affiliation(s), contact information (including the email addresses of all authors) and keywords (maximum six).  Authors who submit abstracts will be informed of the outcome no later than 31 May 2024. The deadline for the submission of full papers will be 30 September 2024. All full papers submitted will be subject to the normal peer review processes of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism.


Contributions are welcome from researchers and practitioners from around the world, including from the Global South. Contributors should follow the journal’s “Instructions for Authors”. An invitation to submit a full paper does not guarantee publication.



  • Expressions of interest/abstract due: 30 April 2024
  • Accepted/ rejected abstracts notified: 31 May 2024
  • Invited full papers due on or before 30 September 2024
  • Anticipated special issue publication: 30 June 2025

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article