Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Tourism

pp 722-724


Pilgrimage tourism

  • Michael A. Di GiovineAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology and Sociology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania Email author 
  • , Jas’ ElsnerAffiliated withCorpus Christi College, Oxford University

Pilgrimage is an ancient form of mobility and a fundamental precursor to modern tourism. Traditionally, it applies to journeys with a religious purpose, but it can also refer to secular travel with particular importance for the pilgrim (Morinis 1992). Espousing a distinctive ritual structure, pilgrimage is often considered to be personally and collectively transformative. Though individually experienced, pilgrimage is a social process developed iteratively over time; pilgrims walk in the footsteps of Others. In this sense, pilgrimage implies a ritualized, hyper-meaningful journey – both inward and outward – to a person’s or group’s sacred center, set apart from everyday life, and built on rich mythological representations and symbolic markers.

In tourism and religious studies, pilgrimage often serves as an oppositional category, defined against other practices of journeying or devotion through sets of binaries, such as sacred/profane, popular/normative religion, and communitas/contestat ...

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