Touristing home: muddy fields in native anthropology
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.
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Researching tourism: reflexive practice and gender