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Genealogical tourism redefining leisure travel market, professor says
Date:3/4/2010

s said.

"We believe that movement is due partly to the increasing sociological awareness of the post-industrial society that we currently live in," Santos said. "With tourism studies developing a more sophisticated interpretative paradigm, more meanings of tourism have been discussed in academia, including the hunt for exoticism and experiencing nostalgia."

The movement away from escapism toward personal enrichment in the last 15 years is also a baby boomer-influenced trend.

"According to our research, the baby boomer generation now constitutes the primary profile of genealogical travelers," Yan said. "Aging plays an important role in defining a person's choice of tourism, and genealogical travel is contemporary society's way of attaining a more coherent and continuous, albeit imagined, view of ourselves in connection with the past."

The authors say another part of what's contributing to the rise in popularity of genealogical tourism is the diaspora of races, cultures and ethnicities in the U.S. longing for an authentic connection to their roots.

"Diaspora definitely plays an important role in popularizing genealogical tourism," Santos said. "Individual cultural and ethnic identities exist in fragmented and discontinuous forms in the U.S. Traveling to identify with an unknown past seems to give existence to meanings and values that the individual then carries forward on into their present."

Since diaspora is a ubiquitous condition in our multicultural country, "our ancestors' past seems less retrievable and almost mythical," Yan said.

The authors say that exploring, re-defining and confirming our identities are life-long projects.

"A lot of us may feel that there's a tension between the need to feel connected and the need to be individualistic," Santos said. "Genealogical travel gives us a practical way to explore those feelings and move toward a deeper understanding of our identities."

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Contact: Phil Ciciora
pciciora@illinois.edu
217-333-2177
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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