TOURISM - An International Interdisciplinary Journal

Volume 59 / 2011 / Number 3 ISSN 1332-7461 


Pilgrimage: Communitas and contestation, unity and difference - An introduction


In this introduction to Tourism's special issue, 'Pilgrimage: Communitas and Contestation, Unity and Difference,' guest editor Michael A. Di Giovine explores the intellectual history of the anthropological theory of communitas — which Victor Turner has argued is a foundational element of pilgrimage — and its broader application to tourism research. Communitas denotes a spontaneous sensation of mutual communication and unity that arises among pilgrims, which transcends the quotidian markers of social structure, such as class, status, education, employment, or political affiliations. While the theory has proven to be foundational in the social scientific study of pilgrimage and, later, (secular) tourism, it was also met with criticism, particularly in John Eade and Michael Sallnow's volume, Contesting the Sacred. Arguing that the analytical discrepancy between those who find communitas in pilgrimage and those who find contestation is predominantly based on one's view of the social structure of pilgrimage/tourism itself, the author posits an alternative model, the field of touristic production. In addition to referencing this issue's interdisciplinary papers, the author illustrates his model of pilgrimage through recourse to his ethnographic fieldwork at the Italian shrine of contemporary Catholic saint and stigmatic, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.