20 Books by Women Academics that Changed Tourism

20 Books by Women Academics that Changed Tourism

As we previously highlighted expert women are often overlooked when it comes to talking at conferences or in the media. In fact, expert women are even overlooked when it comes to citing academic sources in journal articles and books. Visibilising women authors during academic book week is just one step on the road to equality, so EiT has selected 20 books by women academics that we think have changed tourism. This week we will celebrate four books by women authors each day.

The first author needs no introduction and any tourism student should be able to cite this book from memory. Hosts and Guests written in 1977 by Valene Smith is the pivotal text on anthropology and tourism, it is the go-to text when trying to theorise the relationships between diverse populations. Certainly, since the late 70s, there has been some movement to problematize the dichotomous categorization of hosts and guests, but a quick look into visa requirements tells us that for some peoples these categorisations still sadly ring true. Even though it is Hosts and Guests that made Valene a household name among tourism academics, her autobiographical book Stereopticon: Entry to a Life of Travel and Tourism Research is the one that we would like to celebrate here. Autobiographical writing is a style many tourism academics struggle with as they attempt to portray themselves removed from their research, an objective observer.

Another author who has found her way into many tourism scholars’ reading and reference lists is

Taken from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cynthia_Enloe_at_Franklin_%26_Marshall_College.jpg

Cynthia Enloe. Cynthia writes on international relations and politics, but it is her book Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics written in 1990 that argued for tourism to be taken seriously by political commentators. It is for this advocacy alongside her positioning of women’s lives as central to political analysis that we would like to celebrate this book. Disappointingly, Enloe’s assertion that the tourism industry needs women and women’s work to remain underappreciated and underpaid for us to be able to enjoy cheap holidays to far-flung destinations is still an accurate depiction of the tourism industry in many destinations.


In the mid to late 90s, we began to see an emerging trajectory of gender and tourism research. Gender, Work and Tourism, published in 1997 was an edited volume specifically focusing on women as the producers of tourism experiences and gender relations in destination regions. The book acknowledged the cultural and economic differences between ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’, but also incorporated a burgeoning emphasis on the intersectional nature of ‘hosts’. The early focus on race, religion, and gender has led this book to earn its place on the shelves of those researchers analysing tourism and work and while Professor Thea Sinclair is no longer with us, her books and ideas will live on through our work and our students.

Margaret Swain is perhaps the most known name to those studying tourism and gender, or gender in tourism. In Margaret Byrne Swain and Janet Henshall Momsen’s edited book, Gender/Tourism/Fun (?) gender is concretely defined as both social and cultural constructions, which relate to both women and men. This book is particularly prominent for its introduction of sexuality and hegemonic masculinities, and it has been utilised in tourism research that understands gender as a dynamic process. This perspective would grow in importance as academics began to question the reification of their own work, not just as it relates to gender, but also to other categories of identity and experience.

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