What would you think if I told you I had just come back from a holiday in Aya Napa? How about Santiago de Compostella or Glastonbury? How about Mecca? When does travel become pilgrimage, and what are the spiritual factors behind our holiday choices? In this week’s interview, Alex Norman and David Robertson discuss the history and modern relevance of journeys undertaken for spiritual benefit and transformation.

Listen Now

This episode has not been transcribed yet. 

Consider a donation to pay for the cost of editing a transcript?

About this episode

What would you think if I told you I had just come back from a holiday in Aya Napa? How about Santiago de Compostella or Glastonbury? How about Mecca? When does travel become pilgrimage, and what are the spiritual factors behind our holiday choices? In this week’s interview, Alex Norman and David Robertson discuss the history and modern relevance of journeys undertaken for spiritual benefit and transformation.

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. And if you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us, or use our Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com link to support us when buying your important books etc.

Alex Norman lectures at the Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney, where he completed his doctorate in 2010. His central research interests revolve around the confluence of travel practices and religious practices. His book Spiritual Tourism (Continuum 2011) examines the intersection of travel and secular spiritual practice by contemporary Westerners. His other main research interest is in new religious movements, and in 2012 he co-edited the Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production (Brill 2012) with Carole M. Cusack. From 2010 to 2013 Alex was co-editor of Literature & Aesthetics, culminating in a special issue examining travel and literature published in 2012. His latest research project looks at the various ways in which travel events and traditions have impacted the formation of new religious movements.

 Fund the RSP while you shop! Use an Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, or Amazon.com affiliate link whenever you make a purchase. There’s no additional cost to you, but every bit helps us stay on the air! 

We need your support!

Want to support us directly? Become a monthly Patron or consider giving us a one-time donation through PayPal

Related Resources

World Religions in Academia and the Loci of Tradition in Irish Paganism(s)

Response

This brings up and interrogates the basic distinction between Christianity and paganism, or rather the issue of identification of paganism by agents of Christianity. In her interview with the Religious Studies Project, Dr. Jenny Butler spoke with Christopher Cotter about the specificities of the object of her doctoral research at University College Cork (2012), contemporary Irish Paganism, and about the field of Pagan studies in the context of Irish academia.
Material Religion and Visual Culture: Objects as Visible, Invisible and Virtual

Response

David Morgan, Professor of Religion at Duke University, has written extensively on the subject of material and visual culture. In a recent interview with Christopher Cotter, he provides an overview of the field of material religion and introduces his new book The Embodied Eye: Religious Visual Culture and the Social Life of Feeling (2012). In this review, I briefly tease out some of the themes from the interview, present a few snippets from some of Morgan’s publications and finally,
Which Voice Speaks?

Response

Russell McCutcheon writes that the ongoing scholarly issues raised by critical theorists about the category of religion, reflected by McCutcheon, Timothy Fitzgerald and others, reflect the reality that "old habits die hard because they are situated within larger contexts that organize our sense of who we are in relation to others." This includes "discourses on religion" which "many scholars seem to have no choice but to continue to see as self-evident in their meaning and application"

Responses to this episode

Some Questions about Spiritual Tourism

"On a more fundamental level, this raises the question whether ‘spiritual’ refers to a quality that may come in addition to an identification as religious, or whether the two refer to different groups and types of persons." In this podcast Alex Norman defines a spiritual tourist as a person who is travelling for spiritual betterment. As he himself admits, this is a pretty loose term.

Other EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY

Autism, Religion, and Imagination

Podcast

spectrum represent a unique population of study in the cognitive and psychological sciences of religion. Because religious cognition stems from normal social-cognitive capacities, which are altered for individuals on the spectrum, researchers also expect variation in how they think about supernatural agents.
Cognitive Approaches to the Study of Religion

Podcast

The cognitive study of religion has quickly established itself as the paradigmatic methodology in the field today. It’s grounded in the concept that religiosity is natural because it is well adapted to the cognitive propensities developed during the evolution of our species. In this episode, Professor Armin Geertz tells Chris why it deserves its prominent profile, and how it is developing.
Religious Literacy is Social Justice

Podcast

Is Religious Literacy social justice? In this week's podcast with Professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, she discusses the University of Vermont’s new “Religious Literacy for Professionals” certificate and why religious studies does vital work for the academy.
Climate Change(s): New Approaches to Environmental and Agricultural Ethics

Podcast

What can we learn about responding to climate change from small farms run by religious communities? In this episode, the RSP’s Candace Mixon talks to Dr. Gretel Van Wieren about her career in environmental and agricultural ethics. Climate activism has deep religious roots, so join us for practical advice about bringing the diverse approaches of Christian, Jewish, and Muslims groups into the undergraduate religious studies classroom.
Preserving identity and empowering women. How do Canadian Muslim schools affect their students?

Podcast

In this interview, Dr. Jasmin Zine talks about Muslim schools in Canada and their impact on their students’ identity development and integration in the society. Having served for decades as a tool to preserve a particular religious identity, Islamic schooling also plays a crucial role in empowering female students. In some cases, Muslim schools have become a safe haven, especially for women, “a place where their identity is not in question, where they can feel safe and comfortable”.
Human Rights in Australia | Discourse! March 2021

Podcast

Join us for our March current events episode focused on human rights in Australia with the U Sydney crew: Prof Carole Cusack, Dr Breann Fallon and Ray Radford.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The views expressed in podcasts, features and responses are the views of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Religious Studies Project or our sponsors. The Religious Studies Project is produced by the Religious Studies Project Association (SCIO), a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (charity number SC047750).