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ATLAS Special Interest Group
Space, Place, Mobilities in Tourism



Contact details

The contact persons for this research group are:



Antonio Paolo Russo

  University Rovira i Virgili
  Tarragona, Spain



Technical assistance:

Fiammetta Brandajs

  University Rovira i Virgili
  United Kingdom





Following the special track on “Space, place, mobilities and moorings in tourism research" that took place at the ATLAS annual meeting held in Canterbury, UK, 14‐16 September 2016, a group of researchers (ATLAS members and not) has gathered around a SIG project that has the ambition to cover the relatively unexplored ground for conceptual and applied research opened by the mobilities paradigm and its multiple intersections with emerging ‘turns’ in social science: spatial, relational, performative, postcolonial, feminist, critical, etc.

The new SIG should replace the now inactive ‘Tourism Geographies’ SIG, extending its scope beyond and across disciplinary frontiers. Through the articulations of the mobilities paradigm in tourism and its connections with place‐making and place politics, the SIG emphasizes ‘tourist space’ as a producer of processes, and unravels the implications that this production can have on the social, economic, cultural and political dynamics. All this has opened new ground for repositioning tourism research (Richards & Russo, 2016).

The SIG aims to generate new and exciting knowledge about place as continuously moulded by the interventions and actuations of different mobilities: human and nonhuman, physical or immaterial. It will also explore how the epistemologies involved by such new turns may be making room for a transformative agenda ‘from below’ of the tourist space and for subversive policy frameworks, whose logic is to accommodate diverse mobilities in a ‘common space’ founded of the legitimation of multiplicity and difference.

The scholars that take part in the “Space, Place, Mobilities in Tourism” SIG include highly recognised senior experts in the fields involved and emerging researchers with a sincere desire to break through mainstream conceptualisations in tourism and place studies. Most are active in several high-level international networks. This guarantees that the activities of the SIG will have ample resonance in the broader scientific community and will be published in international journals. However the SIG will also care about establishing connections with the civic society - grassroots organizations, placemakers and governments who are engaged in the debate about ‘what is (and what should be) tourism today’.


The overarching aims of the group are thus:

  • To foster the development of the broad field of tourism, leisure and place studies as inflated in recent years by the trans- or post-disciplinary shifts, which are seen as new powerful drivers for the generation of new knowledge that resituates tourism in contemporary society;
  • To produce conceptual and applied research on tourism mobilities which bridge academic knowledge with the societal concerns arising around tourism in the contemporary age, making ourselves useful to - and heard by - civic and political organisations currently engaged in a debate on tourism and place
  • To promote collaborative research activity and academic events and publications in the field mentioned above as it is customary for the ATLAS SIG groups

Key topics

The SIG will engage with a large variety of topics concerning space and place, mobilities, performance and bodily practices in tourism, among which:

  • Recent developments in tourism mobilities research
  • Technical analyses of mobilities, their determinants and their effects end engagements with space and society
  • Bodily performances and the materiality of space
  • ‘Experiencescapes’, negotiation and resignifications of place and its identity
  • Tourism behaviour, consumption, leisure and relational practices in space
  • The role of technology as ‘mobiliser’ and the human/technological interaction
  • The semiotics of tourist spaces: cosmopolitanism, cultural enclaves, cultural conflict and place readability
  • Politics of mobility in the tourist place: producing and regulating mobilities, spatial justice and the ‘right to the city’, accessibility and legitimating difference, diversity and heterogeneity

Program of activities

  • Presentation of the SIG to the broad ATLAS community and enrolment of new members
  • 1st SIG workshop on Space, Place, Mobilities, at URV (Vila-seca, Tarragona, Spain), 17-18 October 2017 (in connection with IGU-Tourism congress on ‘Tourism Shaping Places’, 18-21 October, CfP to be issued soon).
  • Next SIG meetings once a year
  • Webinars organised by the SIG and hosted by affiliates, in the format recommended by ATLAS.
  • Participation in ATLAS Annual Conference – as a thematic panel



Annual review of activities 2017

Paolo Russo

The SIG Space, place, mobilities in tourism research held a ‘foundational event’ at the 2016 Annual Meeting in Canterbury, when the coordinator invited the ATLAS members who responded to his invitation to gather and discuss about their ideas for a new trans-disciplinary group that had to ‘replace’ the old Tourism Geographies SIG.

At that meeting we suggested that a good way to start the activity of the group would be to have a first SIG meeting, and URV-Tarragona offered as a venue.

The activity of putting together the group have continued in the following months, with a mailing list of confirmed names (people who said that YES they want to be involved in the group) that is included below. Other ‘networked activities’ have been carried out in this initial stage:
• A Doodle to choose a name for the group, which eventually turned out to be the one we have by majority vote
• A brainstorming, helped by the circulation of some documents and notes, to wrap up a ‘work plan’ and/or manifesto of the group
• A consultation about the research topics to be included in the first SIG events.
The 1st SIG meeting will be eventually held in Vila-seca (URV Campus) on 17-18 October 2017, in coincidence with the IGU-Tourism conference ‘Mobilities shaping places’ organised by URV and held on 18-21 October. Participants have been offered the possibility to attend both at a discounted price. The two events slightly overlap in terms of potential audiences however the SIG meeting is clearly more trans-disciplinary in character.

The program of the SIG meeting involves
• Three 2-hour sessions:
- Challenges in Mobilities Research: Methods and Applications
- Dissonant performances in tourist places: resignifying space
- ‘Hosts and guests’ in the age of mobilities: practices of cosmopolitanism
• An introductory session
• Two keynote lectures offered by D. Ioannides and X. Caletrio
• An ‘organisational’ SIG meeting establishing the way forward.

A Scientific Committee has been convened for the occasion and includes: Antonio Paolo Russo, Salvador Anton (URV), Julie Wilson (Open University Catalonia), Dimitri Ioannides (Mid Sweden University), Javier Caletrío (Mobile Lives Forum), Kevin Hannam (Edinburgh Napier), Saida Palou (University of Girona) and Claudio Milano (Ostelea School of Tourism) has revised.

The SC has received and eventually accepted after revisions 22 abstract proposals, approximately 6 by ‘local’ (Catalan) authors and the rest by Spanish and international contributors, in majority people who were in the loop as part of the SIG, and a few contributors who take part both in the SIG and in the IGU event. The registration to the event for accepted will be opened in September (through the ATLAS website).

This meeting will be the first real opportunity we had to talk openly and frankly about the way forward and the next steps for this SIG. Topics that will be touched are the funding, the membership (to be extended and promoted further in the whole ATLAS network), the publication projects, the circulation of researchers, the next events, possible collaborative research projects, etc. Obviously we’ll use the Annual Meeting in Viana as a further opportunity to get together with those SIG that will attend.

We thought about having one of the keynotes broadcasted as an ATLAS webinar as announced in previous occasions. This still has to be technically organised but I will make a proposal within the next weeks.



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