Course Description

Hrafnseyri on a beautiful summer day.
Hrafnseyri on a beautiful summer day.
This five-day course will introduce concepts, theories and approaches to tourism and identity within the social sciences. Students will be introduced to the history of tourism, the definition of a tourist and the main theories within the social sciences dealing with the subject of tourism, with a special focus on cultural tourism and identity. How do we define tourism? Has tourism always been a part of the life of humans or is it a phenomenon which apeared later in the history of mankind? Was the viking, Leif the Lucky for example, a tourist when he found America in the year 1000?

Cultural tourism is an umbrella term for a range of tourism typologies and diverse activities which focus on culture in its broadest sense. Cultural tourists seek personal and authentic experiences in destinations and through interaction with their hosts. They seek to gain an understanding of the host society's culture, and through this discover something about themselves.


Hrafnseyri is the birthplace of Jón Sigurðsson (1811-1874), who was the leader of the Icelandic people in their struggle for independence in the 19th century. It is an important part in the construction of an Icelandic national identity and therefore visited as such by the Icelandic people.


Coastal tourism in the Westfjords is driven by many types of domestic and international visitors who are highly motivated to (re-)experience coastal places and peoples. It includes a wide variety of activities, which connect the visitor with nature (wildlife and nature appreciation, angling, sailing, cruising, and kayaking) and foster his/her interactions with the local population (in towns and cities, on public and private lands, at sea). In all of this, coastal tourism entails the discovery of-and reflection upon-cultur and identity differences.

The students will also visit the historical Saga-site of Gísli Súrsson in Haukadal in Dýrafjörður, the "Skrímslasetur" in Bíldudal and take a tour on an angeling fishing boat in Arnarfjörður.


Participants will get a broad perspective of the field through three different instructors:

Katrín A. Lund, Social Anthropologist, Assistant Professor at the University of Iceland, will give an introduction to tourism on the first day.

Valdimar Halldórsson, in social anthropology and director of the Museum of Jón Sigurðsson will introduce the concepts of cultural tourism and identity within the grounds of Hrafnseyri Museum on Wendsday and Thursday.
Professor Marc L. Miller, School of Marine Affairs, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, and Department of Anthropology, University of Washington (Seattle), USA, will then, on Friday and Saturday connect contemporary cultural tourism and identity to coastal tourism in an area that builds its culture for centuries on the close connection to the sea.


Excursions to the sites of the Gísla Saga in Haukadal, as well as to the Arnarfjörður Sea Monster Museum in Bíldudal, including opportunities for fjord angling, will round off the programme.


The course will be taught in English.