Accepted paper:

Homesick travel: spiritual tourism in southeast Australia


Stewart Muir

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the search for home, for belonging, by tracking the activities of a New Age spiritual tour guide and his clientele in Sydney, Australia.

Paper long abstract:

For some Australians, belonging is far from straightforward: it must be acquired. Unresolved colonial guilt, the feeling that non-Aboriginal Australians can never truly be 'indigenous', can unsettle an easy sense of home. For some Australian practitioners of alternative spiritualities such ambivalent belonging, of an unhomely home, is even more keenly felt for it threatens a sense of self that is, in part, predicated on an essential unity between human and non-human nature, in this case between persons and the Australian landscape. One of the ways in which this unease is expressed and ameliorated is through travel to 'sacred' places; such travel both celebrates and lays claim to the land. Because it is often to the metaphor of the Aboriginal sacred that Australians turn when expressing, or seeking, a sense of belonging, the sites of Australian spiritual tourism are frequently (real or imagined) Aboriginal places. Rather than roots tourism, this is rootless tourism; or rather, tourism in search of roots, even is such roots belong to someone else. This paper discusses the search for home by tracking some of the practices of a spiritual tour organizer and his clientele in Sydney, Australia.

panel C2
Roots tourism