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Highly skilled professional mobility and tourism as intertwined practices
Tourism is embedded in the individual’s temporal and spatial life-path in complex ways and often related to other forms of temporal mobility (Urry 2002; Burns & Novelli 2008, Hall 2008). In our paper, we discuss the multidimensional, intertwined practices of professional mobility and tourism, building on two qualitative studies of highly-skilled Swedish professionals’ practices of “internationalization”. The studies focus medical professionals and Humanities scholars and teachers working abroad with research or teaching, e.g. going on postdocs, exchange programs, meetings and conferences. The stays abroad do not only bring scientific benefits and familiarity with divergent organisational infrastructures and practices, but are also perceived as an acceptable way for performing some tourist activities and getting to know places and “cultures”. The choice of location is informed not only by professional reasons, but also by “imagined geographies” connected to imageries of adventure or satisfying leisure activities, and thus to “good life” for the professional and sometimes even the accompanying family. A period of every-day life in a specific locality is supposed to enrich and deepen the tourist experience with more “authentic” familiarities and fluencies. The “foreign” places and practices may be a source of exotic bewilderment, but also of recognition of the commonality of the human condition – which recent trends in tourism strive for. We study the motifs and meanings behind the range of mobilities undertaken by the professionals, in life-course perspective – where travelling for work, learning and leisure might be combined in complex ways.