Tourism & Heritage TIG

The Tourism and Heritage Topical Interest Group (THTIG) is a sub-group of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) that plans events at the annual SfAA Meetings, organizes student awards, and shares tourism and heritage related information and announcements with members through social media and our list-serve. We are currently updating and “revamping” our list-serve and social media presence.  If anyone would like to join us, please contact Jonathan Extract at  

Newsletter Column Editor Note

As the new Newsletter Column Editor, I’d like to first introduce myself and thank the board for welcoming me into this exciting group! I am a PhD candidate at the University of California, Riverside doing ethnographic and archival research on pilgrimages and heritage landscapes in Indigenous Central Mexico. I look forward to sharing my work and getting involved in promoting the exciting events and opportunities that THTIG has to offer. 

-Jonathan Extract 

Recap of THTIG Events, Cincinnati 2023 

It was a great pleasure to meet with many of our THTIG members at the SfAA Annual Meeting. Having the opportunity to hold our Business Meeting in-person again was a delightful experience. Likewise, seeing the wide array of tourism and heritage-related posters on display in a non-virtual space, along with their presenters in-person, was a real treat. We thank all our participants for sharing their research and insights with us in Cincinnati.

Tourism and Heritage TIG Business Meeting

During the THTIG Business Meeting, our new board was proposed and subsequently selected. Following the conclusion of the SfAA Annual Meeting, the new and/or continuing board members were seated:

Chair: Lawrence Ramirez (University of California, Riverside)

Vice Chair: Carter Hunt (Pennsylvania State University)

List-Serve Manager: Sarah Taylor (California State University, Dominguez Hills)

Valene Smith Tourism Poster Competition Coordinator: Benjamin Mertus (Ohio State University)

Erve Chambers Student Paper Competition Coordinator: Melissa Stevens (University of Maryland)

Newsletter Column Editor: Jonathan Extract (University of California, Riverside)

Social Media Manager: Ellie Zelaya (California State University, Dominguez Hills)

We welcome our new board members, and we offer thanks to our returning members for their continuing commitment to the THTIG.

Results for the Valene Smith Tourism Poster Competition 

This student poster competition honors the legacy of Dr. Valene Smith, a pioneer of tourism studies in the social sciences; the seminal edited volume she organized Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourismwas first published in 1977. Valene Smith was also a member of the THTIG. Through this award that celebrates her contributions to the anthropology of tourism and heritage, the THTIG expresses gratitude for her vision. This is a special competition for the best posters on the theme of "tourism," broadly defined, including topics such as heritage, archaeology and tourism, ecotourism, and cultural resource management, during the annual meeting. Each year, one poster is selected to receive the top Valene Smith prize of $500 and two posters receive honorable mention with travel awards of $250 each. 

The winners of the 2023 Valene Smith Tourism poster contest are as follows:

First Place ($500): Meg Sudac, (University of Puget Sound). “A Sense of Belonging: Space and Place in Southern California Surf Culture.”

Abstract: Modern surfing is a vital subculture in Southern California. But now the waves have become overpopulated and led local surfers to take a territorial stance. This phenomenon is known as localism and is based on a surfer’s sense of homeland. In its history, localism has been conveyed in aggressive ways that often lead people to feel unsafe. However, as times have moved on localism has taken a different form, focusing on competitiveness and respect. This project focuses on the effects of localism, its legacy, the surfing communities it affects, and the physical spaces and places surfing culture occupies.

Honorable Mention 1 ($250): Bridget Arnold, (Purdue University). “Foodie Days in the Desert: Living, Working, and Eating in Yosemite National Park.”

Abstract: Yosemite National Park in California enjoys roughly 5 million visitors every year as well as the classification of designated wilderness. The NPS employs about 750 summer workers, many of whom live within or just outside park boundaries and struggle with finding affordable, convenient, and nutritious food. For many, the closest supermarket with reasonable prices and a variety of groceries is an hour and 15-minute drive one-way. Given these challenges, this research explores the strategic and nuanced ways that NPS employees based in a designated wilderness area navigate living in a food desert while working in a lower-income seasonal career field.

Honorable Mention 2 ($250): Stella Douglass, Emily Hale, and Samantha Wingate (University of Arizona, Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA), Rebecca J. Harkness, Olivia Yoffe, and Jorge Barcelo (University of Arizona). “Reading between the Boxes: Archaeological Field Schools and the Curation Crisis at the Arizona State Museum.”

Abstract: Museums have increasingly faced challenges in preservation space and funding shortages known as “the curation crisis.” Archaeological collections impacted are less accessible and more difficult to keep up to curation standards. The Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) has rehoused and inventoried two field school collections at the Arizona State Museum, the University Indian Ruin (UIR) and Silver Creek Archaeological Project (SCARP). Their respective relational databases combat inaccessibility that leads to the loss of data regarding site heritage. This poster positions the processes used in working with both collections among the larger crisis faced by the museum world.

Poster Evaluation Criteria: Any research posters that dealt broadly with themes of tourism and/or heritage were considered for these prizes. The posters were judged on the following criteria: visual organization, creativity and clarity of the poster, as well as the use of data/theory, the timeliness of the work, and its applied nature. On behalf of the Valene Smith poster contest judges and of the THTIG membership, congratulations on a job well done!

We also want to offer our appreciation to the poster judges for this year’s contest: Elizabeth Beckner, Xianghong Feng, Laura Flanagan, Benjamin Mertus, and Mauri Systo. The THTIG is grateful for the judges’ time and effort in support of this event. Thank you.

Update on the “Erve Chambers Tourism and Heritage Student Paper Award”

The “Erve Chambers Tourism and Heritage Student Paper Award” was established to honor the legacy of Dr. Erve Chambers and recognize his contributions to the anthropology of tourism and heritage, as well as encourage new and innovative avenues of inquiry within the field through an annual student paper competition. As a prize awarding competition, this competition is currently on hold as the THTIG raises funds to build an endowment of $10,000 as a sustainable source of funding for the competition's annual cash award.

Those interested in contributing to the endowment fund can make a donation online through the SfAA’s secure website at and choosing "Chambers Tourism & Heritage Student Paper Award'' from the Funds drop-down list to ensure that your donation goes towards helping to build up the endowment for this great honor. All contributions are greatly appreciated!

Call for Newsletter Submissions

The THTIG newsletter is always in need of a robust community of contributors. Consequently, we are looking for volunteers to serve as assistant newsletter editors overseeing important departments for this newsletter column. The three departments that we are developing are: short articles, news and announcements, and media reviews. If you are interested in learning more about these editorial opportunities, please contact Lawrence Ramirez (

For upcoming newsletters, we are accepting abstracts for short essays (800-2000 words) to be published in this column. Submissions may include editorials, accounts of personal experiences in the field or in the classroom, reviews of a recent book or film on tourism, arguments for or against a certain view on a tourism-related matter, etc. Abstracts should be no more than 200 words and may be submitted to Jonathan Extract ( Submissions are currently being accepted for the November 2023 newsletter. We look forward to hearing from our members. Thank you.

©Society for Applied Anthropology 

P.O. Box 2436 • Oklahoma City, OK 73101 • 405.843.5113 •