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Researching tourism: reflexive practice and gender 
Convenors:
Hazel Andrews (LJMU)
Pamila Gupta (University of the Witwatersrand)
Discussant:
Marilyn Strathern (Cambridge University)
Stream:
Series A: Tourism as ethnographic field
Location:
GCG08
Start time:
12 April, 2007 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

This panel focuses on the ethnographic research process in tourism and examines the roles that gender, class and ethnicity have in that process. In so doing it seeks to broaden understandings of and insights into ethnography as a research technique in anthropology more generally.

Long Abstract

This panel focuses on the dilemmas involved in undertaking ethnographic fieldwork in tourism. The immediate question that arises is how far removed from the practice of being a tourist is the participant observer? As an issue, this is not unfamiliar in anthropological studies of tourism (e.g. Crick, 1985). This panel wishes to expand on these ethnographic concerns, with a focus particularly on the role that gender has in influencing the form, content, and conduct of research, including the degree of reflexivity involved on the part of the researcher. Questions to be explored include (but are not limited to): does the role of the participant observer become like that of the tourist due to factors such as gender, and to an inter-related degree, that of race and class; how often are such factors acknowledged as shaping encounters in the field; does reflexivity aid in separating the anthropologist from the tourist or does it in fact have the opposite effect; to what extent does gender influence the distance between the researcher and his or her subject; and finally, we ask if reflexivity itself is a gendered practice, and if so, in what ways? We intend less for the panel participants to resolve these epistemological questions, but rather to generate new arenas of discussion for research in tourism, and from contextual, gendered, and reflexive standpoints. This panel will further the understanding of ethnography as a research technique in the discipline of Anthropology in general.

Accepted papers:

E

Author:

Claudia N Campeanu (University of Texas, Austin)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I draw on my own ethnographic experience in doing tourism research at home in Romania as a US-trained anthropologist. I discuss it in terms of the questions it raises about the intersections between field and home, academic and tourist practice, gender and knowledge production.

Paper long abstract:

After six years of studying in the US, I returned home to Romania for dissertation fieldwork in the tourist destination of Sighisoara, sixty km away from my own home town. Fieldwork, in a sense, was a gift to myself, my parents, and my friends back home. I would allow myself to be—socially and culturally—at home, again, for an extended period of time.

Fieldwork turned out to be a constant process of navigating through and negotiating intersecting and contorted subjectivities. A nostalgic diasporic me, returning home, financially independent and politically engaged. A colonizing me, educated and formed as an adult and a scholar in "America." A daughter, a friend, an acquaintance, caught in a web of supporting and contriving relationships that extended well into the past and into the future. A constant in-between, not quite at home, but not away either, interpellated by foreigners as a privileged and accessible insider, and by locals, as somebody who, just like any other tourist, has temporarily been brought here by some incomprehensible desire and can leave at any time for a better place. Writing ethnography has been equally problematic, as it continued my particular affective engagement with the field/home, and it constantly confronted me with inadequate epistemologies of distance and difference invoked by "doing" and "writing up" ethnographic research.

So far, my most productive and satisfying thinking and writing have come from allowing myself to come at peace with and inhabit this muddy and shifting field. In this paper, I describe this as a gendered experience and I explore the possibilities that such insights might open for myself and for ethnographic practice.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Filareti Kotsi (Zayed University)

Paper long abstract:

During my research I found myself working in my own country after some years of absence and I rediscovered the meaning of being a Greek, an orthodox and a woman, all this through my concern of how the tourists and the pilgrims are enchanted during their voyages. Having found ways to distance myself from what I thought as familiar, I was enchanted while rediscovering the greek culture and the orthodox religion as well gender issues, looking at them from a different point of view. My research concerns the greek pilgrimage site of Mount Athos where women are not allowed to enter. As a result, this first impact of my feminine identity led me to work at the small village of Ouranoupolis, located next to the monastic peninsula. In this paper, I focus on the implications of my personal identity during the anthropological practice in a reflexive manner. I explore the ways the identity of the researcher influences the gathering of data and its interpretation during the ethnographic research and during the writing of the ethnographic text. In particular, I examine the consequences of being a woman and how this influenced the representation of reality and whether this fact facilitated, impeded or modulated the conduct of my research. I show, for example, how I came close to the pilgrims and tourists, having participated in twelve pilgrimages and sixteen tourist cruises. I examine the outcome of knowing the tacit codes of the culture as well as the language, in other words I examine what it means to be a native anthropologist. Given the fact that my research concerns pilgrims, I also examine a third aspect of my identity, my belonging to the orthodox religion and the impact that this had on my research. Given all these circumstances, the aim of this paper is to show how the anthropologist rediscovers his/her culture, his/her language, his/her religion and him/herself.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Chiara Cipollari (University of Perugia)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I will reflect upon the different "stages", appellations and roles I went through during my fieldwork in Botiza.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I will reflect upon the different "stages", appellations and roles I went through during my fieldwork in Botiza, a village situated in the North-Western part of Romania, which has developed a form of locally managed rural tourism since 1994.

My fieldwork has coincided with a period of transformation, in which there were very few tourists and local tourism politics were hardly developed, and the current moment in which the tourism demand is growing exponentially. In just a few years (from 1995 to 2001). People and the administration had to review local social dynamics, in order to organise the village and to deal with the increasing tourism demand.

I analysed particularly in the moments of interactions between tourists and members of the local community and observed that whilst the impact of changes is present in politics and in practises of tourism, it is not recognized it the narratives.

Having lived for a long time with a family in Botiza that hosts tourists, I observed the everyday practices of the hosts and, at a certain moment, I, the ethnographer, played a part in the context I was observing. Far from home and alone I entered local houses and met people, being named each time "the guest", "the sister", "the friend", "the teacher", "the tourist", "the stranger", "the easy girl". The very first question I was always asked was "Married or not?".

The extent to which was I rejected or accepted according to the context or/and the information brought me inside my research and is certainly part of my fieldwork experience.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Pamila Gupta (University of the Witwatersrand)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I reflect on my experiences of doing fieldwork in Goa, India (1999-2000) from my position as a female anthropologist, of Hindu Indian parentage, raised and educated in the United States.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I reflect on my experiences of doing fieldwork in Goa, India (1999-2000) from my position as a female anthropologist, of Hindu Indian parentage, raised and educated in the United States. I take as my starting point three seminal fieldwork encounters that shaped how I was perceived by 'others' in Goa in order to both illuminate and complicate the gendered and racialized postcolonial politics of conducting anthropological research, on the inter-related topics of tourism and religion. In adopting a self reflexive stance towards these experiences, I am able to suggest not only that my identity became tied to my gender(female), but also, interestingly, to my racial and regional background (in India) over my national, diasporic, and academic location(in the US). That is, I was more easily perceived or rather, fit more neatly into the category of a "modern (North) Indian girl", rather than that of a female Western academic. My intention is to employ these three fieldwork encounters to first highlight the role of gender in shaping fieldwork, including its power to delimit access to resources on the part of the female researcher, and the seriousness with which she is regarded by others; and secondly, to explore how the role of the participant observer, at least in my case, became that of the (non) tourist due to the combined factors of gender, religion, and race. Further, I pose these encounters as dilemmas, not to be resolved but rather explored and discussed as impacting and complicating the (gendered and racialized) fieldwork process.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed