Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Tourism Geographies







Publisher Name

Taylor and Francis


Classic Anglo-European definitions of tourism as recreational travel have hindered more nuanced locally-grounded understandings of travel phenomena elsewhere in the world. Moreover, contemporary global labor and educational mobility have produced novel travel forms and behaviors that straddle the Western categories of “tourist” and “migrant.” The purpose of this analysis is to examine Toraja (Indonesia) perspectives on travel which can be instructive for correcting the binary divides between tourism and migration that have long plagued dominant Western models of travel. Drawing from data culled from long-term qualitative fieldwork and online research, I convey three ethnographically-grounded stories of Toraja migrants on return visits to their homeland in order to destabilize Western-centrism in tourism studies. Research findings underscore contemporary travel understandings and practices that do not fit neatly with Western mutually exclusive categories of “tourism” and “migration.” These Toraja practices encompass local historical patterns of travel for experiential/financial enrichment (merantau), migration and tourism. This study also advances tourism scholarship by highlighting the importance of local knowledge and demonstrating the value of ethnographic storytelling as a scholarly strategy for destabilizing orthodox Western-centric theoretical understands of tourism. The global significance of this place-based research is that tourism studies can be enriched by widening our lenses to also consider emigrants on return visits to their homelands.


Author Posting © Taylor and Francis, 2020. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Taylor and Francis for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Tourism Geographies, May 2020.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.