This panel will examine a form of tourism that has until now been a neglected topic, that of 'roots' tourism, of using travel as a means to forge deeper connections with the places associated with ones family, ethnic or religious group.
In the western economies, the recent growth and popularity of family history research has resulted in a corresponding rise in the number of people engaging in travel to pursue their research, and in some cases, return to their family's identifiable 'point of origin.' Others may undertake a journey to meet distant kin that have been 'discovered' in their research. Whatever the motivations, undertaking genealogically related travel is a means to recover or regain a form of 'deep kinship' that extends beyond living memory and possibly also across national, ethnic, religious and cultural boundaries. Other variations of roots tourism may be less exact than the personal and private genealogical search for specific lost kin, and may focus in more general ways on a return to the homeland of a diaspora, or to places that have specific role in the collective memory and history of a social group. Topics that could be addressed include the motivations and experiences of such tourists, the commercial development of roots destinations and packages, the idea of home in relation to history and notions of belonging and return, the biographical and narrative construction of self - identity, the ways in which ideas of home, ethnicity and belonging are challenged and perhaps reinforced by such travel, and how both individual and collective memory deals with time and space.