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.
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.