Psychology and Society Group Meeting with Raluca Mateoc

Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Time: 13:00 - 14:00 (CET)

Hybrid event – LLC 2 or online HERE (Zoom Link)

Free Registration: Click HERE 



For this second Psychology and Society Group (PSG) talk organized by the Department of Psychology and Counseling, Raluca Mateoc will share her research about "Nature, Churches and “Prayer Islands”: on Touristic Encounters in Nagasaki."


As the Christian sites in the Nagasaki area of Japan made their way on the World Heritage List, attitudes about the place for both tourists and locals have changed. The economic and social transformation of the concerned Nagasaki rural area into a World Heritage site redefines the cultural and environmental sensibilities of visitors and residents alike. By tracing the formal and informal social networks through which specific attitudes, beliefs, and sensibilities about cultural heritage are circulated and reproduced, I demonstrate how villages, forests, islands, churches or memorial sites marketed for tourists also influence local attitudes about the place.


Based on studies which analyze the historical roots of contemporary Japanese modes of travel (Graburn 1983) or the relationship between nostalgia and national identity at play in domestic village travel (Robertson 1988), I show why host communities engage in tourism in particular ways. My key questions include: How are discourses about tourism mobilized in local communities by residents, local guides, or urban-rural migrants in Nagasaki? How is nature reimagined along with tangible cultural heritage? How does engagement in tourism-related activities shape local participants’ sense of place and sense of self? Looking through the lens of tourists and local guides, I show how knowledge about the Christian sites of Nagasaki area is localized, packaged, and reproduced for tourist consumption as part of a much larger Japanese state project promoting village revitalization.


Overall, the study shows that the binary social and analytical categories of insider/outsider, host/guest or visitor/visited frequently used in anthropological studies of tourism are both reproduced and transcended in Nagasaki. Both on-side and remote ethnography will inform this account.



Raluca Mateoc is postdoctoral research associate in Social Anthropology at the Universities of Fribourg and Geneva. Her current project examines the connection between urban-rural migration and tourism as triggered by the World Heritage registration of a rural area in Nagasaki, Japan. She conducted research stays at the University of Tokyo (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellowship) and the Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle / Saale (German

Academic Exchange Service grant). Her research interests are cultural heritage in Japan, tourism, memory, rurality.

Among her latest publications stands an edited volume on the methodological, ethical, and engagement-related dimensions of fieldwork in Eastern and Central European countries from the 1970s onwards (Lit Verlag: Wien).

Dial-In Information


You can join us on Zoom HERE

Tuesday, November 16

Webster University Geneva, LLC 2
Route de Collex 9 1293 Bellevue, Switzerland

Event Type

Global Campuses, Geneva



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