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). In addition, he is visiting professor at the University of Bergamo (Italy). 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).
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. Understanding the changing meaning and value of (intangible) cultural heritage is still high on his research agenda. It forms part of Salazar's broader work within the subfield of the anthropology of tourism. 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. 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).
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)". He is currently using this concept to research the role of dominant discourses and images of (im)mobility in various cultures across the globe. 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. 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).2010 Envisioning Eden: Mobilizing imaginaries in tourism and beyond. Oxford: Berghahn.
2017 Methodologies of mobility: Ethnography and experiment. Oxford: Berghahn. [with Alice Elliot & Roger Norum]
2017 Mega-Event mobilities: A critical analysis. London: Routledge. [with Christiane Timmerman, Johan Wets, Luana Gama Gato & Sarah Van den Broucke]
2016 Keywords of mobility: Critical engagements. Oxford: Berghahn. [with Kiran Jayaram]
2014 Regimes of mobility: Imaginaries and relationalities of power. London: Routledge. [with Nina Glick Schiller]
2014 Tourism imaginaries: Anthropological approaches. Oxford: Berghahn. [with Nelson H. H. Graburn]
2017 Key figures of mobility. Theme issue of Social Anthropology 25(1). [with Jamie Coates]
2013 Contemporary ethnographic practice and the value of serendipity. Theme issue of Social Anthropology 21(2). [with Isabelle Rivoal]
2013 Regimes of mobility. Theme issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39(2). [with Nina Glick-Schiller]
2011 Anthropological takes on (im)mobility. Theme issue of Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 18(6). [with Alan Smart]
2005 Resolving conflicts in heritage tourism: A public interest anthropology approach. Theme issue of International Journal of Heritage Studies 11(5). [with Benjamin W. Porter]
2004 Heritage and tourism, PIA and global interests. Theme issue of Anthropology in Action 11(2/3). [with Benjamin W. Porter]
2017 The unbearable lightness of tourism … as violence: An afterword. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 25(5):703-709.
2017 Key figures of mobility: An introduction. Social Anthropology 25(1):5-12.
2017 The free movement of people around the world would be utopian. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 24(2):123-155. [with Simone Abram, Bela Feldman-Bianco, Shahram Khosravi and Nicholas de Genova]
2016 Living in mobility: Trajectories of Brazilians in Belgium and the UK. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(7): 1199-1215. [with Mieke Schrooten and Gustavo Dias]
2015 Embedded and re-purposed technologies: Human mobility practices in Maasailand. Mobilities. [with Jessika Nilsson]
2014 To be or not to be a tourist: The role of concept-metaphors in tourism studies. Tourism Recreation Research 39(2):259-265.
2013 Imagineering otherness: Anthropological legacies in contemporary tourism. Anthropological Quarterly 86(3):669-696.
2013 Regimes of mobility across the globe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39(2):183-200. [with Nina Glick-Schiller]
2013 Contemporary ethnographic practice and the value of serendipity. Social Anthropology 21(2):178-185. [with Isabelle Rivoal]
2013 Seasonal lifestyle tourism: The case of Chinese elites. Annals of Tourism Research 43(4):81-99. [with Yang Zhang]
2013 Imagining mobility at the 'end of the world'. History and Anthropology 24(2):233-252.
2013 The social implications of tourism imaginaries. Tourism Tribune 28(12):3-4.
2012 Tourism imaginaries: A conceptual approach. Annals of Tourism Research 39(2):863-882.
2012 Community-based cultural tourism: Issues, threats and opportunities. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 20(1):9-22.
2011 The power of imagination in transnational mobilities. Identities: Global Studies in Power and Culture 18(6):576-598.
2011 Anthropological takes on (im)mobility. Identities: Global Studies in Power and Culture 18(6):i-ix. [with Alan Smart]
2010 Tourism and cosmopolitanism: A view from below. International Journal of Tourism Anthropology 1(1):55-69.
2010 Towards an anthropology of cultural mobilities. Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture, 1(1):53-68.
2010 Tanzanian migration imaginaries. International Migration Institute Working Papers, 10. Oxford: University of Oxford.
2009 Imaged or imagined? Cultural representations and the "tourismification" of peoples and places. Cahiers d’Études Africaines 193-194:49-71.
2009 A troubled past, a challenging present, and a promising future: Tanzania’s tourism development in perspective. Tourism Review International 12(3-4):259-273.
2008 Enough stories! Asian tourism redefining the roles of Asian tour guides. Civilisations 57(1/2):207-222.
2007 Towards a global culture of heritage interpretation? Evidence from Indonesia and Tanzania. Tourism Recreation Research 32(3):23-30.
2006 Touristifying Tanzania: Local guides, global discourse. Annals of Tourism Research 33(3): 833-852.
2006 Antropología del turismo en países en desarrollo: Análisis crítico de las culturas, poderes e identidades generados por el turismo. Tabula Rasa: Revista de Humanidades 5:99-128. [The anthropology of tourism in developing countries: A critical analysis of tourism cultures, powers, and identities]
2006 Building a ‘culture of peace’ through tourism: Reflexive and analytical notes and queries. Universitas Humanística 62(2):319-333.
2005 Tourism and glocalization: ‘Local’ tour guiding. Annals of Tourism Research 32(3):628-646.
2005 Heritage tourism, conflict, and the public interest: An introduction. International Journal of Heritage Studies 11(5):361-370. [with Benjamin W. Porter]
2005 Más allá de la globalización: La "glocalización" del turismo – Una perspectiva etnográfica. Política y Sociedad 42(1):135-149. [Beyond globalization: The "glocalization" of tourism – An ethnographical perspective]
2004 Cultural heritage and tourism: A public interest approach - Introduction. Anthropology in Action 11(2/3):2-8. [with Benjamin W. Porter]
2004 Resolving conflicts in heritage tourism: A public interest approach. Anthropology News 45(2): 44-45. [with Benjamin W. Porter and Peggy R. Sanday]
Noel B. Salazar serves on the editorial boards of, among others, American Anthropologist, Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Journal of Heritage Tourism, Transfers, Applied Mobilities and AIBR - Revista de Antropología Iberoamericana (Spanish). He is editor of the Worlds in Motion Book Series (Berghahn) and co-editor of the Anthropology of Tourism Book Series (Lexington). From 2011 until 2015, he served on the Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. In 2013, Salazar was elected as President of the association. Within EASA, he founded the Anthropology and Mobility Network (AnthroMob), which also has a presence on the Open Anthropology Cooperative. In 2013, he was also elected as Vice President of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences for a five-year period and as board member of the Young Academy of Belgium. 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) and the American Anthropological Association Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group (USA). Since 2012, he also chairs the Commission on the Anthropology of Tourism of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. He is an expert member of the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee and the UNESCO-UNITWIN Network 'Culture, Tourism and Development'. 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.