Mirroring the anthropologist: reflex-ions of the self
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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.
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Researching tourism: reflexive practice and gender