Biography – Maartje Roelofsen

I am a cultural geographer working on the socio-spatial impacts of digital technologies, particularly within the realm of tourism. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona (Spain) I am currently investigating how users of tourism platforms (such as Airbnb) shape the governance of these platforms and their digital infrastructures through political participation and digital activism. Since 2020, I am a visiting scholar at the Department of History and Cultures at the University of Bologna (Italy). From 2017 to 2020, I was an Associate Lecturer at the Department of Geography and Planning at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Photo credit: Die Presse, 2017

My background is in tourism studies and I have completed my doctoral degree in Sustainable Urban and Regional Development with the Human Geography group at the University of Graz (Austria) in 2018. I completed my postgraduate degree at the Cultural Geography Group at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) in 2012.

Having lived and worked in different countries and continents throughout my life, I have always been interested in geography and the changing meaning and identity of spaces and places. More particularly, I am intrigued by how places become through:

  • tourism
  • travel
  • digital technologies
  • platform economies, and the
  • (dynamic) relationships between people

In the last 6 years my work has centred on the impact of tourism and tourism platforms on the everyday lives of people. Although I spent a lot of time studying Airbnb in the urban context, I am more generally interested in how digital platforms and technologies affect and shape mobility, social relations, intimate space, and people’s senses of themselves. In my research, I am concerned with issues of power and justice: I consider leisure and tourism to be important sites for studying inclusions, exclusions and inequalities in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, religion, class, age, disability, body size and family status.

Currently, I am carrying out a 3-year research project at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, which explores how tourism-related digital platforms transform the everyday lives of their users. In particular I will be looking at how users of those platforms assert their political agency to challenge and change platforms’ modes of governance. More about this project can be found on my other website:

You can read more about my research here.

As an associate lecturer, I teach/taught into various graduate and post-graduate courses. These include: “Qualitative Methods in Human Geography”, “Heritage and its Management”, “Climate Change: Policies, Management and Adaptation”, “Human Geography in Action”, “Living in the Anthropocene”, “Sustainable Urban Regions” and “Urban Strategic Planning”.