Interdisciplinary Research Group on Travel

For information, please email the Faculty lead: Dr. Steven Muir or visit his page

Travel — "movement between two or more points"

Focus and mandate of the group

We are a group of scholars united in exploring issues related to travel.  We understand “travel” to have many dimensions.  For example, not only people but ideas and movements can travel.  Travel has personal and social aspects: it can be a process of self-discovery as one also encounters and learns about other places, people and circumstances.  Travel involves physical movement but may also deal with conceptual or imaginative journeying. 

As an academic group, we gather regularly to share the results of our research.  We learn from each other and collaborate on projects.  Because the members of the group represent many fields and disciplines, we bring a diversity of approaches and topics to the table.

 Key processes

  • Connecting, communicating
  • Representing, mediating
  • Encountering, experiencing
  • Adapting, changing, transforming
  • Discovering, learning

For some interesting quotes related to this type of research, see here.

For some interesting images related to the themes of this research, see here.

Group members (click here for further information)

  • Steven Muir – Religious Studies & Classics
  • Manfred Zeuch – Vice-President International and Research
  • Tim Loreman – Vice-President Academic and Provost
  • Elizabeth Smythe – Political Science
  • Tolly Bradford – History
  • Linda Van Netten Blimke, Katherine Miller, Jasmina Odor, Marco LoVerso – English
  • Mark Loo – Business
  • Xin Chen – Biology & Environmental Science
  • Dorothy Steffler, Wendy Pullin – Psychology
  • Zoltan Berkes – Physics
  • Edgar Schmidt – Education
  • Lisa Micheelsen – Classics
  • Dan Mirau – Library
  • Veronica Miller – Modern Languages

Friends of the Group

  • Xinxin Fang, Director CUE Centre for Chinese Studies
  • Christine Baghdady – Sociology, Political Science (The Kings University, Edmonton)
  • Robyn Hall – Library, Social Anthropology (MacEwan University, Edmonton)
  • Lainna El Jabi, Research Facilitator (MacEwan University, Edmonton)
  • Marina Hutton, Concordia Alumna (Arts/Management)
  • Catherine Caufield – Religious Studies, Sociology (Athabasca University, Alberta)
  • Janet Tulloch – Religious Studies, Classics (Carleton University, Ontario)
  • Michel Desjardins – Religious Studies, Pedagogy (Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario)
  • Katherine Nielsen – Anthropology, Education (Centre for International Education, University of Sussex, UK)
  • Olga Jarman – Religious Studies, Ancient Medicine (St. Petersburg, Russia, Saint-Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University)
  • Nicola Hayward – Religious Studies (McGill University, Quebec)
  • Erin Vearncombe – Religious Studies (Princeton University, NY)
  • Jason Lamoreaux – Religious Studies, Classics (Texas A&M)
  • Nanna Natalia Karpinska Dam Jørgensen – Independent scholar (Norway)
  • Emma Rochester (Australia)
  • Rupa Pillai (University of Oregon)

migration meditation tourism Jung pilgrimage diaspora myth Bildungsroman colonialism narration teleology trends ethnicity mobility Odysseus homeland mysticism anti-structure Heilsgeschichte advertising identity nationalism Freud imperialism assimilation McLuhan trek retreats borders Turner adventure Theseus invasion exploration quests transculturation liminality contact-zone Campbell spirituality network access refugee self-discovery

Upcoming events

[note change of date] Monday January 30, 2017 12:00-1:00 pm HA015 "Satsang (congregational worship) in Migration."  Rupa Pillai, Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology University of Oregon

Caribbean Hinduism in New York City is unique from other forms of American Hinduism in its practice of satsang. Satsang, a form of congregational worship originating in Guyana during the late nineteenth century, defines Caribbean Hinduism. This model of worship emerged in the context of the colonial Caribbean to thwart the conversion efforts of Christian missionaries while fostering a sense of social identity for indentured Hindus. While such adaptations might position Caribbean Hinduism for a quicker transition and acceptance into the American religious landscape, this model is in crisis in New York City. As I will discuss in this paper, the formalizing of satsang worship in the context of New York City produces unique problems that places the very community that satsang inspires in crisis. However, these problems inspire a new notion of satsang to better serve the needs of the Indo-Guyanese Hindu community. This new model of satsang or alternative satsang, as I describe it, emerges out of informal gatherings that attempt to address the needs of Indo-Guyanese in New York City while building a more supportive community that inspires engagement with the city.

Rupa is a graduate student in cultural anthropology interested in gender, ethnicity, and hybridity within Diasporic Hinduism. Her recent research project “Hinduism’s Alternate Route: Caribbean Hinduism in New York City,” examines the variety of Hindu worship within the Indo-Caribbean community in Richmond Hills and Ozone Park. Rupa explores how Hinduism is mobilized both as a tool for community and ethnic identity formation and as a way to create/maintain ties with the Caribbean and India.

Monday February 6, 12:00-1:00 HA 015. “When did the North become the South?  Reflections on the 2016 World Social Forum in Montreal”  Elizabeth Smythe, CUE

For the first time in its 16 year history the World Social Forum, a global gathering of social justice activists and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) critical of global corporate capitalism and neo-liberalism, held its event in a major city in the Global North. For some the decision to hold the event in Montreal drew criticism and raised concerns about the costs and accessibility for those coming from the Global South who in their view have borne the brunt of economic injustice and the costs of globalization.  For others the decision represented a growing recognition that concepts of South and North in the discussion of social injustice are becoming less meaningful . Many in the North struggle with the same issues of inequality, unemployment, austerity and the impact of climate change and extractive industries on communities and peoples. This reality has been reflected in anti-austerity movements in Europe and protests such as the Occupy! in cities around the world.  This presentation will unpack the concepts of North and South through observations of the WSF in Montreal and what it tells us about the global geographic distribution of injustice.

Thursday March 2.  12:30-1:30 room T105. "Travel Writing and Cross-cultural Understanding."  Dr. Leilei Chen. 

The book Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-cultural Understanding features two Canadian and four American travel writers examining post-1949 China.  Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-cultural Understanding contributes to the study of travel literature by going beyond the genre’s imperialist implications. Chen’s extensive archival research on travel narratives about contemporary China leads her to examine those works that have not yet caught adequate scholarly attention. With a close reading of Jan Wong, Jock T. Wilson, Peter Hessler, Leslie T. Chang, Hill Gates, and Yi-Fu Tuan, her book addresses the urgency of understanding travel writing as a genre of cultural translation and of transformation that results from interacting with Chinese otherness. In addition to the moments of separation the genre conventionally represents in various forms between home and abroad, and between self and other; the book looks for connections and commonalities the travellers envisioned in the foreign country. It shows that cultural difference does not simply separate the self from the other. Despite its nature as a barrier, difference may engender a genuine interest in the other and may catalyse a rediscovery of the self in relation to the other and, possibly, meaningful exchanges between China and the travellers’ home countries. In the context of today’s globalized world where communication across ethnic and cultural borders becomes a daily necessity, Chen’s book imagines the hope of a productive communication with otherness and the possibility of an equilibrium relationship across borders

Dr. Leilei Chen teaches English literature and Writing Studies courses at the University of Alberta and MacEwan University. She worked at the Writing Centre and taught both junior and senior English courses at Concordia University of Edmonton from 2013 to 2015. She writes nonfiction and has published in the fields of travel writing studies, Canadian literature, Asian American literature, and Victorian literature. Her Chinese translation of Steven Grosby's Nationalism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press) is coming out from China’s Yilin Press (南京译林出版社). She was a professor of English at Jinan University, Guangzhou, before moving to Canada


Past events:

November 19, 2014. Dr. Steven Muir (Religious Studies), "Religion on the Road in ancient Greece and Rome."

December 8, 2014.  Wine and Cheese term-end event.  The festivities included readings by members of the English Department. 

February 12, 2015.  Dr. Mark Loo (Management), "What conferences can do for you: Engaging global cultures, enriching life-long learning and creating unforgettable experiences."

February 25, 2015.  Dr. Linda Van Netten Blimke (English), “ ‘A Quiet Journey of the Heart’: The Rise of the Sentimental Traveler and Women’s Travel Writing in 18th century Britain.”

April 2015.  An afternoon term-end event, similar to what we had in December.  Co-hosted by the staff of our Library, with readings, displays, and refreshments!

September 2015.   Dr. Elizabeth Smythe (Political Science) "The World Social Forum:  A Pilgrimage for Global Justice."

October 2015.   Robyn Hall (Scholarly Communications Librarian, MacEwan University) and Dan Mirau (CUE, Library), “Knowledge without borders: the open access movement's impact on the flow of information.”

November 2015.  Co-hosted with Focus on Women Research Group (CUE).  "Pilgrimage as Movement Towards an Ideal:  Tales of French Feminists." Dr. Wendy Pullin (Psychology, CUE)

December 2015.  Christmas / term-end event.  Festivities, food, readings.

January 2016.   “Travel, learning adventures, and making a difference” – Marina Hutton, former student at Concordia

March 2016.  "Purposeful wanderings on the path of becoming: An artist's exploration of moving towards wholeness in gendered landscapes."  Emma Rochester (PhD candidate, Griffith University Australia and current artist in residence, Banff Arts Centre). 

March 2016.  “Peregrinatio and Immrama: tales of Irish pilgrimage and wandering.”  Katherine Nielsen, Associate Researcher, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex.

April 5.  "Odysseus, foreign lands, and the inspiration to Anthropology in Enlightenment Canada," Dr. Kevin Solez, MacEwan University

April 12.  "Herod the Great: The Greatest Builder in the History of the Holy Land," Dr. Larry Herr (Burman University).  Co-hosted with CUE Institute of Christian Studies and Society.

September 19, 2016.  "An Examination of Pedometer Use and Physical Activity Levels of Faculty, Staff, and Students in an Academic Institution."  CUE Research Team: Brent Bradford, Adam Howorko, Erinn Jacula, Shaelyn Hunt, Nicole Correia

October 26.  “Take a Trip with Swedenborg and Blake.”  Rev. David J. Fekete, Ph.D.  (Co-hosted with CUE Institute of Christian Studies and Society)

November 16 Emma Rochester, Ph.D. candidate, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University (Australia).  “Pathways travelled by a woman artist-scholar.  ”Ms. Rochester will reflect on the many travels, opportunities, challenges, and insights she has had in artistic and academic career to date. 

December 5  “Reflections by a Concordia Student: The 2016 Youth Global Humanitarianism and Participation Seminar in Taipei, Taiwan,” Kelsea Gillespie.

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