Vivian Gornik, Ph.D

Senior Lecturer


Research Interests: tourism, heritage, museum anthropology, applied anthropology, national identity, ethnography, visual anthropology, Brexit, the United Kingdom, public archaeology

Academic Profile:
I am an applied cultural anthropologist with research interests at the intersection of tourism, heritage, and national identity. My doctoral dissertation research was a direct reflection of my background in both anthropology and museum studies. I completed ethnographic fieldwork in 2017 in Glastonbury and Tintagel, England, where heritage sites draw tourists in from around the world. I was particularly interested in how those heritage sites produced and commodified narratives of national identity in post-Brexit Britain.

In addition to my tourism research, I have invested quite a bit of time in teaching museum anthropology through student-curated exhibition projects. At the University of South Florida, I taught Museum Methods in 2016 and 2018. Both classes resulted in formal exhibitions for the department’s Waterman Gallery. In 2016, we explored the human impact on Earth in The Anthropocene: Is This the Age of Humans? and in 2018, we tackled several social justice issues through visual anthropology in Exposure: Photography and Social Justice

As an applied anthropologist, I love engaged pedagogical approaches where students immediately put theory to practice. I have presented and published on this work, often with my former students. For example in February 2020, I co-presented “Museum Methods at the University of South Florida: Transforming Museum Practice at the Undergraduate Level” with my former student Michelle Assaad at the Museums Challenge Symposium at the University of South Florida.

Over the last several years my research has evolved from a primary focus on heritage and museums, to a broader focus on cultural tourism and global mobilities. Prior to COVID-19, I had plans to return to England to look at the potential threat of overtourism and touristification in Tintagel. Unfortunately this project has now been delayed. However, I am pivoting my focus to documenting the impact of coronavirus on these small English communities that rely significantly on tourism.

Moving forward my trajectory is two-fold. I anticipate being a part of student-curated exhibitions projects in the future, and I will continue to research and discuss the pedagogical benefits of teaching through exhibitions. And secondly, I plan to return to the United Kingdom to continue conducting ethnographic fieldwork on the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism. Both of these research paths are informed by my applied anthropological perspective and my goal to conduct and publish meaningful and useful anthropological research.