Noel B. Salazar

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Noel B. Salazar
Education B.Sc., University of Leuven (1993)
M.Sc., University of Essex (1998)
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania (2008)
Occupation Anthropologist

Noel B. Salazar (born 1973) is a sociocultural anthropologist known for his transdisciplinary work on mobility and travel, the local-to-global nexus, discourses and imaginaries of 'Otherness', heritage, cultural brokering and cosmopolitanism.


Noel B. Salazar was born in Dunkirk, France, of a Spanish father and a Belgian mother. He grew up in the historical Flemish town of Bruges, a celebrated cultural tourism destination. Salazar studied psychology, philosophy, and development studies at the University of Leuven (Belgium), neuropsychology at the University of Essex (UK), and anthropology and African studies at the University of Pennsylvania (United States). He is currently research professor in anthropology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Leuven, where he founded CuMoRe (Cultural Mobilities Research).[1][2] In addition, he is visiting professor at the University of Bergamo (Italy).[3] His ethnographic fieldwork so far has focused on Indonesia, Tanzania, Chile and Belgium. Salazar currently lives in Brussels, the "capital of Europe", together with his spouse and two daughters.


Noel B. Salazar's main research interests include anthropologies of (im)mobility and travel, the local-to-global nexus, discourses and imaginaries of alterity, cultural brokering and cosmopolitanism. His anthropological work synthesizes ethnographic findings with conceptual frameworks developed within anthropology, sociology, geography, cultural studies, tourism studies, philosophy and psychology. Salazar has won numerous grants for his research projects (including from the National Science Foundation, the EU Seventh Framework Programme and FWO).[4][5][6]

While at the University of Pennsylvania, Salazar experienced first-hand the benefits of transdisciplinary research. His involvement within the Department of Anthropology's Public Interest Anthropology project taught him the necessity of bridging the divide between academia and the wider public. Together with archaeologist Benjamin W. Porter, now professor at the Near Eastern Studies Department, UC Berkeley, he applied the public interest perspective to heritage tourism.[7][8] Understanding the changing meaning and value of (intangible) cultural heritage is still high on his research agenda.[9] It forms part of Salazar's broader work within the subfield of the anthropology of tourism.[10][11] He used the findings from his extended ethnographic fieldwork to shift the predominant focus in tourism studies on tourist and impact studies to a study of tourism service providers, showing their crucial role as intermediaries.[12][13][14][15] In his book, Envisioning Eden: Mobilizing Imaginaries in Tourism and Beyond (2010), he critically analyses the circulation and dynamics of tourism imaginaries, illustrated with fine-grained ethnographic data from Yogyakarta (Indonesia) and Arusha (Tanzania).[16]

One of Salazar’s key concepts is the one of imaginaries, which he describes as "culturally shared and socially transmitted representational assemblages that are used as meaning-making devices (mediating how people act, cognize, and value the world)".[17][18] He is currently using this concept to research the role of dominant discourses and images of (im)mobility in various cultures across the globe.[19] Salazar conceives mobility as a globally circulating socio-cultural construct that positively values the ability to move, the freedom of movement, and the tendency to change easily or quickly. Salazar tries to bridge the academic gap between tourism and migration studies by studying the analytical purchase of (im)mobility as an overarching concept.[20][21] More concretely, his cultural mobilities research helps us understand the complex (dis)connections between tourism imaginaries and ideas of transcultural migration. This work happens in close collaboration with established anthropologists such as Nina Glick Schiller (University of Manchester), Nelson Graburn (University of California, Berkeley) and Alan Smart (University of Calgary).[22][23][24]



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Noel B. Salazar serves on the editorial boards of, among others, American Anthropologist,[25] Annals of Tourism Research,[26] Journal of Sustainable Tourism,[27] Journal of Heritage Tourism,[28] Transfers,[29] Applied Mobilities [30] and AIBR - Revista de Antropología Iberoamericana (Spanish).[31] He is editor of the Worlds in Motion Book Series (Berghahn) and co-editor of the Anthropology of Tourism Book Series (Lexington).[32][33] From 2011 until 2015, he served on the Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists.[34] In 2013, Salazar was elected as President of the association. Within EASA, he founded the Anthropology and Mobility Network (AnthroMob),[35] which also has a presence on the Open Anthropology Cooperative.[36] In 2013, he was also elected as Vice President of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences[37] for a five-year period and as board member of the Young Academy of Belgium.[38] Salazar regularly travels around the world to present his work (in English, Spanish, French and Dutch).

Salazar is a founding member of the Tourism-Contact-Culture Research Network (Europe)[39] and the American Anthropological Association Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group (USA).[40] Since 2012, he also chairs the Commission on the Anthropology of Tourism of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences.[41] He is an expert member of the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee[42] and the UNESCO-UNITWIN Network 'Culture, Tourism and Development'.[43] In addition, Salazar is on UNESCO’s and UNWTO’s official roster of consultants. He has applied his expertise on tour guiding by giving professional tour guide trainings, and this in countries as varied as China, Indonesia, Tanzania, Malawi, and Belgium.


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  8. ^ "Heritage Tourism, Conflict, and the Public Interest: An Introduction". International Journal of Heritage Studies. 11: 361–370. doi:10.1080/13527250500337397. 
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  12. ^ "Tourism and glocalization "Local" Tour Guiding". Annals of Tourism Research. 32: 628–646. doi:10.1016/j.annals.2004.10.012. 
  13. ^ "Touristifying Tanzania". Annals of Tourism Research. 33: 833–852. doi:10.1016/j.annals.2006.03.017. 
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  15. ^ "Community-based cultural tourism: issues, threats and opportunities". Journal of Sustainable Tourism. 20: 9–22. doi:10.1080/09669582.2011.596279. 
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  19. ^ "The Power of Imagination in Transnational Mobilities". Identities. 18: 576–598. doi:10.1080/1070289X.2011.672859. 
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  21. ^ "Tourism Imaginaries: A Conceptual Approach". Annals of Tourism Research. 39: 863–882. doi:10.1016/j.annals.2011.10.004. 
  22. ^ "Regimes of Mobility Across the Globe". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 39: 183–200. doi:10.1080/1369183X.2013.723253. 
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  24. ^ "Anthropological Takes on (Im)Mobility". Identities. 18: i–ix. doi:10.1080/1070289X.2012.683674. 
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