January 16, 2006
Finally ... a post
After a long break over Christmas and New Year, I finally decided to get back to writing blog entries.
To start with I plan to take it slow, and not address any of the major theoretical issues that I might want to talk about at the later stage. Instead, I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about my fieldsite, why I chose it, and what I found out.
My thesis research is about British migrants living in the Lot valley, southwest France. All of my research participants migrated in the last 20 years to live in this, by their own admission, paradise. At first sight, this seems like Raymond Williams rural idyll, but essentialising it in this manner masks the real motivations behind the migratory process. (You can already tell that I have spent all day working on one of my chapters and am struggling to get out of that zone).
It really is a beautiful area, and I first visited it four years before I carried out my fieldwork. It is a large wine-producing area, and a gastronomic centre. Aside from that, it is often described as 'unspoilt' and the 'place that time forgot', which identify it as a tourist destination. But as a place to live? Coming from the urban lifestyle that I have led all my live, I questioned whether living in the Lot permanently was an ideal lifestyle. What did it really mean to the people who chose to live there? Was it the case that they only wanted the tourist, expatriate lifestyle that the newspapers sold to everyone.
So, in 2004, I spent my year travelling round the Lot, drinking coffee, wine, eating and socializing with the British population. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life - living and breathing ethnography. I returned to Britain at the end of 2004 feeling completely disorientated and out of sorts, which I believe is a common experience. Now with a year and a half of distance, my thoughts and feelings are finally starting to form a coherent whole that, one day, will be my thesis.