Fieldwork in Kiriakitsa
Ethnographers in the past, although they often established authority by giving brief accounts of how they gained entry to a community, rarely offered readers insight into the ethnographer's role and the particular methodological problems encountered. Currently, however, a shift toward more reflexive ethnographic writing encourages the examination of the place of the narrator/observer ( Hess, 1989). This approach, although criticized by some as "self-indulgent" (e.g., Pratt, 1986, p. 31), can provide insight in at least two ways, enabling readers to understand fieldwork as a process rather than a completed effort and allowing them to judge for themselves how the participant observer influenced the data that were gathered. With these objectives in mind, I focus here on central issues surrounding my roles in the community and the methods of data collection.
In the Preface, I described how I gained access to the communities of Kiriakitsa and Trikala. Throughout the 8 months of fieldwork I lived in the village, where I had a room in the Yorgakis house. This household included Katerina, Grigoris, and often Alexis, their 4-year-old grandson, who spent about half his time in the village and half with his parents in Trikala. Other members of the family -- Rena, Kalliope, and Petros -- also stayed occasionally. Sometimes I would spend 2 or 3 days in Trikala with one of the daughters' families, but there was not enough space in these apartments for me to have a room or work area, so I always returned to the village for writing and analytical work. From the window near my desk, I could look out onto the road and monitor the activities of the neighborhood. Children from all the nearby households, sometimes as many as 10 or 15, would