Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Special Issue: Beyond the Margins (Critical Tourism and Hospitality)

‘Write’ of Passage: Reflecting on the Fieldwork Process and Its Contribution to Critically Orientated Tourism Research

Amie L. Matthewsa1 c1

a1 University of Western Sydney, Australia


Reflecting on my own experiences conducting ethnographic fieldwork within the international backpacking community and the metaphorical (as well as physical) journey this entailed, this article provides an account of the fieldwork process as it is lived and focuses on the interplay between the academic as observer and the academic as observed. In particular, drawing on key excerpts from the author's fieldnotes, the article opens up the fieldwork process to closer scrutiny, examining the emotional, corporeal and social dimensions of research. In so doing, the article explores some of the tensions that can emerge for the tourism studies scholar, who as researcher, traveller and tourist may frequently occupy multiple roles and identities within an individual research project. However, rather than viewing these convergences as an obstacle or limitation, I suggest that when viewed through the methodological approach of autoethnography, they are in fact conducive to developing a more reflexive and critically orientated approach to tourism studies.


  • backpacker travel;
  • autoethnography;
  • ethnography;
  • reflexivity;
  • qualitative research;
  • critical tourism studies


c1 Address for correspondence Amie L. Matthews, School of Social Sciences, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith NSW 2751 Australia. E-mail: