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School of Geography

James Grave James Grave

Contact details

School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

Volunteer Tourism in Uganda: Understanding the experiences of communities hosting volunteer tourism projects


Volunteer tourism has been described as ‘a popular practice of development’ whereby individuals utilise discretionary time and income to travel out of the sphere of regular tourist activity to assist others in need, and somehow make a difference in the world, without financial gain. It frequently takes a place within the ensemble of institutions, policies and practices of intervention which focus on the alleviation of poverty, thus contributing towards international development goals.

This project will contribute to academic discussions around ‘moral geographies’, the practice of caring acts, volunteer tourism as a form of performed 'outwardlookingness' of globally-conscious individuals, and as part of 'the rise of civil society'. The research will add to the ongoing debate around imaginative geographies and volunteer tourism by interrogating the production of ‘otherness’ and the identify-formation of the figurative values which sustain images of ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘our space’ and ‘their space’. 

Existing literature focusses heavily on volunteers, with little research directly regarding the perspectives of host-communities. The perceptions, experiences and desires of host communities are frequently neglected or ignored within academic discussion. There is a critical need for further research to provide a firm foundation for a deeper understanding of volunteer tourism– in both its positive and negative aspects - as a form of international development.


To understand the experiences of communities hosting volunteer tourism projects through two comparative longitudinal case-study investigations which explore the interactions between stakeholders and the execution and outcomes of projects.

  • Examining the perceptions that host communities hold towards the concept of volunteer tourism as a practice of international development.
  • Exploring the changing attitudes and expectations of different host communities towards two volunteer tourism projects taking places within different contexts.
  • Assessing and compare outcomes resulting from the execution of two different volunteer tourism projects.
  • Informing the discussion regarding successful, effective and appropriate practice of volunteer tourism in developing world contexts.


Louise Waite
Ayona Datta

Research Affiliations

Citizenship and Belonging


University of Leeds 110th Anniversary Research Scholarship


Short Curriculum Vitae


BA (Hons) Geography, University of Sheffield, 2012.
MA International Development, University of Sheffield, 2013.