Special Issue "Faith in Spiritual and Heritage Tourism"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 September 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine

Department of Anthropology and Sociology, West Chester University, 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19383, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Heritage; Tourism; Pilgrimage; Spirituality; Historic preservation; UNESCO; Sustainability; Gastronomy; Popular religion; Catholicism; Italy; Cambodia; Vietnam; Ethnography; Anthropology
Guest Editor
Dr. Mohamad Sharifi-Tehrani

Department of Management, Faculty of Administrative Sciences and Economics, University of Isfahan, Isfahan (city), Isfahan Province, Iran
Interests: Heritage; Spirituality; Cross-cultural contacts; Consumer behavior; Entrepreneurship; Quantitative and qualitative methods of research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

What is the role of faith in heritage tourism, particularly at sites with spiritual connections?

Faith refers to trust or confidence in something, often based on apprehension rather than on empirical proof, though it may frequently be perceived to be warranted (Boa 2006; Plantinga 2000) especially when it stems from an interpretation of “emergent signs” (Davis and Bowles 2003; Ness 2011; Wojcik 1997), as in the case of religion. Indeed, faith is often implied in religion, but it is also regarded as part and parcel of heritage tourism. Site managers often uncritically view heritage as a boon for the tourism industry, taking it on faith that it will contribute to destinations’ economic development (e.g., Shepherd 2013). On the other hand, visitors frequently approach secular heritage sites with certain forms of faith and reverence that mimic the spiritual, much like what occurs in places of worship but also in museums (Di Giovine and Garcia-Fuentes 2016; Recht 1999).

Although faith can bind people together (though ritual, creeds, shared worldviews and mythologies, etc.), it can also exclude those who do not share in similar values or beliefs. This is also the case for both spiritual and heritage tourism, where faith sometimes leads to tensions and political conflicts between diverse stakeholders who each may attribute different meanings or usages, or lay competing claims to the same site (Breglia 2006; Di Giovine and Garcia-Fuentes 2016; Harrison 2010; 2012; Poria and Ashworth 2009). Tension may also emerge in both religion and heritage through a clash of “authorized” discourses that marginalizes or excludes popular beliefs or understandings (Di Giovine 2015; for religion, see Badone 1990, Carroll 1992; Martin 2009; Orsi 1985; for heritage, see Di Giovine 2009; Harrison 2010; Smith 2006), playing out in the ways in which a site is experienced or managed.

What has been less examined in the literature—and what this special issue aims to address—is how faith is implicated when the same site holds different and overlapping meanings for different stakeholders. How can these conflicting aspects of the same site be effectively managed to minimize tensions among different groups of stakeholders? How does the overlapping of spirituality and heritage create unique forms and manifestations of faith? What is the role of faith when heritage sites embody spiritual values, and vice-versa? What is the role of faith in heritage tourism, particularly at sites with perceived spiritual values?

This special issue of Religions seeks contributions that will explore the above questions. It also solicits contributions on the best practices and suggestions in managing heritage attractions/sites where spiritual values and heritage values coincide or conflict. Submissions are encouraged that particularly address the ways in which faith is manifested in spite of opposing sacred and secular forces at a destination. This is indeed timely, since in secularizing and/or emerging nations, religious sites are primary recipients of so-called “heritagization” processes—the conversion of sacred sites that have outlived their usefulness into sites valued for the ways in which they connect the past to the present (Isnart and Cervales in press; Macdonald 2013; UNESCO 1994). In many cases, tourism trends, religiously motivated or otherwise, are the primary impetus for these heritagization processes (Gravari-Barbas 2018).

Thus, the concept of faith in this thematic issue can be interpreted in two ways:

  • The roles, effects, and experiences of faith by visitors and other stakeholders at heritage sites that embody opposing sacred/secular forces. This includes how faith structures meanings, representations, imaginaries, and behaviors at the site.
  • Political, economic, and social motives for heritagizing religious sites by site managers, developers, and other policy makers for touristic consumption. Preservation decisions can also be implicated here.

We are looking to compile a multidisciplinary range of papers from the social sciences, humanities and religious studies, critical tourism studies, and critical heritage studies. In the end, this issue will not only shed light on the multiple manifestations and effects of faith on spiritual heritage destinations, but will also reveal how different disciplines approach the concept of faith in the study of heritage and tourism.

Interested scholars are requested to send a title and short (100 word) abstract to either of the guest editors following the online submission instructions by March 1, 2019.

Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine
Dr. Mohamad Sharifi-Tehrani
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 550 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Faith
  • religion
  • heritage
  • tourism
  • spirituality
  • pilgrimage
  • destination management
  • sacred sites
  • historic preservation

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
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