Tourism & Heritage TIG

Lawrence J. Ramirez
Doctoral Student in Anthropology
University of California, Riverside

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 Lawrence Ramirez at  

​​​​​​​Recap of THTIG (Virtual) Events, Norfolk 2021 

It was a great pleasure to meet with many of our THTIG members at the SfAA Annual Meeting. Even with all the distractions that disrupt homebound virtual conferencing, our affiliated sessions and related sessions offered a rich opportunity to place our projects into conversation. Thus, we thank all our participants for sharing their research and insights through this digitally mediated platform. Although we all yearn to return to a more “normal” form of presenting and conferencing, we at THTIG are grateful for all of our participants helping us find a “new normal” during these trying times.

Tourism and Heritage TIG Business Meeting

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

Chair: Stefan Krause (Lamar University)

Vice Chair: Vivian Gornik (Troy University)

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

Valene Smith Tourism Poster Competition Coordinator: Savannah M. Schulze (Purdue University)

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

Newsletter Column Editor: Lawrence Ramirez (University of California, Riverside)

Social Media Manager: Meagan McGuire (CDME – Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority)

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

Results for the Valene Smith Tourism Poster Competition 

This student poster competition honors the legacy of Valene Smith, a pioneer of tourism studies in the social sciences, who first published her seminal work Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism in 1977. Valene Smith was one of the founding members of the THTIG. Through this award, THTIG celebrates and 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 2021 Valene Smith Tourism poster contest are as follows:

First Place ($500): Mari Carillo (Lewis-Clark State College) "Shifts in Traditional Knowledge and Practices Among Sobadores"

Abstract: Western medical systems often fail to recognize cultural healthcare practices within Latinx communities, which limits equitable healthcare access; therefore, extensive networks of traditional healers including sobadores (musculoskeletal healers) persist within these communities to provide cultural healing. This ethnographic research explores knowledge, practices, and shifts related to sobadas (manipulative therapy) described by two sobadoras in Southern Idaho between December 2019 and January 2020. Understanding shifts in sobadas over time, from a healer’s perspective, is imperative for preserving traditional healthcare systems, especially for underserved populations dependent on these systems.

Honorable Mention 1 ($250): Anuszka Mosurska, James Ford, Susannah Sallu (University of Leeds) "Representations of Indigenous Peoples in Disasters in the Globe Elite Media"

Abstract: This research is concerned with how disasters and Indigenous peoples are discursively constructed in the elite news media. We conducted a critical discourse analysis, finding that disasters were constructed as physical phenomena, depoliticizing them. Discourses around Indigenous peoples were more nuanced: sometimes their agency was highlighted, whilst something they were framed as vulnerable and passive. Many articles reduced Indigenous interests to those about the environment, depoliticizing Indigeneity. Overall, articles adhered to neoliberal discourses, for instance by really emphasising the importance of participation without consideration of the politics entailed.

Honorable Mention 2 ($250): Julia Orzolek (U-Penn Bloomsberg) "The Impact of the Jaws Effect, Education, and Experience on Shark Conservation"

Abstract: Contrary to popular belief, shark populations are being systematically depleted worldwide through fishing. Despite their consistent drop in number, conservation efforts are often impeded by people’s fears. The declining shark population is concerning because sharks are apex predators. The absence of sharks could negatively impact every other aspect of their ecosystem. Through surveying, interviewing, and participant observation, this ethnographic research focuses on individuals who are advocates for shark conservation to better understand how education and experience transformed their views on sharks from fear to fascination, and even to activism on behalf of sharks.

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: the visual organization, creativity and clarity of your poster, as well as your use of data/theory, the timeliness of your work, and its applied nature. On behalf of the Valene Smith poster contest judges, congratulations on a job well done!

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!

Until this wonderful endowment is sufficiently funded, the THTIG will work to find creative alternatives for non-financial prizes for the Annual Erve Chambers Tourism and Heritage Student Paper Award.

Call for Newsletter Submissions

For upcoming newsletters, we are accepting abstracts for short essays (1000-2500 words) to be published in this column. Submissions must be on a tourism or heritage related topic and can be editorial, on your current research, a description of a personal experience in the field or in the classroom, a review of a recent book or film on tourism, an argument for or against a certain view on a tourism-related matter, etc. Abstracts should be no more than 200 words, and can be submitted to Lawrence Ramirez ( Submissions are currently being accepted for the August 2021 newsletter. We look forward to hearing from our members. Thank you.

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