Jafar Jafari: A Journey of A Thousand Miles.
Jafar Jafari is Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Department of Hospitality and Tourism (USA). He came to this position trained as a cultural anthropologist (PhD, University of Minnesota, USA) and as hotel administration graduate (BS and MS, Cornell University, USA), bringing with him additionally an honorary doctorate from the Universitat de les Illes Balears (Spain). Jafar’s contributions to the academic community span international boundaries and institutions. He is Visiting Professor of the Universidade do Algarve (Portugal), Luleå University of Technology (Sweden), and Sun Yat-sen University (China); Lifetime Honorary Professorship of Bundelkhand University (India), and international Program Director of the Universitat de les Illes Balears (Spain).
In addition to research and teaching, Jafar holds numerous editorial board positions and has established foundational journals, books, and networks within tourism studies.
He is the Founding Editor of Annals of Tourism Research: A Social Sciences Journal. Jafar is also Chief Editor of Tourism Social Science (book) Series; Co-Chief Editor, Bridging Tourism Theory and Practice book series; Chief Editor, Encyclopedia of Tourism; Co-Founding Editor, Information Technology & Tourism; Co-Founder, TRINET: Tourism Research Information Network; and Founding President, International Academy for the Study of Tourism.
In The Study of Tourism: Anthropological and Sociological Beginnings, Jafar explains his personal journey through his exploration of tourism, and his early recognition of the paucity of research and knowledge in this area (Jafari, 2007). Jafar’s master’s thesis on The Role of Tourism in the Socioeconomic Transformation of Developing Countries (Jafari, 1973) provided an early contribution to sociological understandings of tourism. The study of tourism then was considered suspect or unimportant:
“I recall how amusing it was for graduate student in my campus residential hall to hear that I was doing research on tourism for my thesis. There were fellow dormmates who were writ ing theses (some at the PhD level) on flies and insects, how birds mate, how bats fly in the dark, etc., none of which were suspect academically. One might wonder, for example, why birds' seasonal migration would do for serious research, but not peoples' temporary migration, why the flying patterns of geese would do, but not tourists' travel patterns, and why birds' choices of migration destinations would do, but not those of tourists.”
Jafar had to defend the legitimacy of the subject of tourism as a choice of thesis topic. He is a pioneer of tourism studies and an example of how passion, perseverance and collaboration can result in outstanding achievements, despite poor financial or institutional support. Over his extensive exploratory journey in tourism studies, he identifies the adaptancy, cautionary and advocacy phases of tourism, leading to the current “knowledge based platform” (Jafari, 1990, 2001). These forays into the various decades and stages of tourism’s evolution led him to recognize the need for a new medium to foster a variety of perspectives on tourism, especially from non-economic and multi-disciplinary points of views. Shortly after commencing as a new faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, he founded the Annals. He guided the journal from its instigation in 1973 through the first thirty four volumes. His 1997-98 sabbatical leave at the Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain, led to the development and publication of Annals en Español. The first issue of Annals en Español appeared in 1999. Papers and reports in this Spanish version of Annals are more closely relate to tourism in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries.
In January 2008, Jafar Jafari stepped down as the Editor-in-Chief of Annals and John Tribe took over this role. In the 2011 editorial of Annals, Tribe and Xiao provide a note of appreciation acknowledging his pivotal contribution to tourism studies. As they state, he had the foresight to establish Annals as a social sciences journal in tourism, and demonstrated exemplary qualities as Editor-in-Chief, guiding the journal to incredible progress and position as the top journal in tourism.
Over his long career, Jafar has made immense contributions to tourism studies through his research and editorship of various academic publications, as well as teaching and mentorship of students and emerging scholars through his permanent and visiting positions worldwide. Thanks to his personal generosity and remarkable work ethic, he has actively facilitated cross-disciplinary collaboration and networking in a field that has grown in legitimacy, visibility and progress towards the “knowledge-based platform”. He is the recipient of the 2005 United Nations World Tourism Organization Ulysses Award. The 17th of December of 1998, Jafar Jafari received an Honorary Doctorate by the University of the Balearic Islands. In his honorary speech (Jafari, 1998), Jafar reflects on the future of tourism studies:
“Today, it is quite evident that tourism has finally assumed its scholarly position in research and academic circles. Moreover, all signs suggest that tourism will continue successfully with its progress toward new frontiers of knowledge. This will further enhance its status among formal institutions and in the society at large. But attainment of this higher goal along its scientification course will depend on the support and the type of influence exerted by the scholarly community, grant institutions, government bodies and organizations in tourism, and the industry at large. In a nutshell, tourism is on its way, with a definitive sense of direction and purpose. As a Chinese proverb suggests, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Tourism is already beyond the initial steps, and its scientific journey is clearly in progress, aiming at new frontiers, heading to new horizons.”
The 2013 October international seminar offers an opportunity for us to gather and honor Jafar Jafari. We welcome you to participate in this tribute to this illustrious scholar and outstanding human being.
Tazim Jamal and Ana María Munar*
*Ana is an Associate Professor at Copenhagen Business School and a former PhD student of Jafar. Tazim is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University. We have been fortunate to benefit from Jafar's encouragement and contributions to the knowledge-based platform in tourism studies.
Jafar, J. (1973). The Role of Tourism in the Socioeconomic Transformation of Developing Countries. Ithaca NY: Cornell University. M.S. Thesis.
Jafari, J. (1990). “Research and Scholarship: The Basis of Tourism Education.” Journal of Tourism Studies, 1(1): 33–41.
Jafari, J. (1998). “Tourism Assuming Its Scholarly Position. A Retrospective and Prospective Overview”. Retrieved from http://www.uib.es/honoris/
Jafari, J. (2001). The Scientification of Tourism. In Hosts and Guests Revisited: Tourism Issues of The 21st Century, V.L.Smith and M. Brent (Eds), New York: Cognizant Communication, pp. 28–41.
Jafar, J. (2007). “Entry into a new field: Leaving a Footprint”. In The Study of Tourism: Anthropological and Sociological Beginnings, D. Nash (Ed.), Tourism Social Sciences Series, Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 108-121.
Tribe, J. and Xiao, H. (2011). Developments in Tourism Social Science. Annals of Tourism Research, 38(1): 7–26.
Online access to key landmarks and bridges
Jafar has been both as a “brick-layer” and a “developer” in the field of tourism. His brick-by-brick layers appear in his paper contributions known to the scholarly community, a very long list to be included here. But the list of his landmarks and bridges are shorter and all accessible online:
Annals of Tourism Research
Tourism Social Science Series (book series)
Bridging Tourism Theory and Practice (book series)
Encyclopedia of Tourism
International Academy for the Study of tourism