This research examines, in a case study of Pitcairn Island, the meaning of community. Such meanings emerge in the empirical field whereby the ‘field’ offers its own cues to both issue and method. The main lesson learned from this ethnographic study stems from the experiential nature of fieldwork whereby ‘community’ is viewed as a cluster of embodied dispositions and practices. Influenced by Anthony Cohen's ethnographic work (1978, 1985) the case study demonstrates the centrality of the symbolic dimensions of community as a defining characteristic. Described as one of the most isolated islands in the world accessible only by sea, Pitcairn is the last remaining British ‘colony’ in the Pacific, settled in 1790 by English mutineers and Tahitians following the (in)famous mutiny on the Bounty. It represents in an anthropological sense a unique microcosm of social structure, studied ethnographically only a handful of times. Results show symbolic referents contribute to a sense of ‘exclusivity’ of Pitcairn culture that facilitates co-operation and collectivity whilst also recognizing the internal–external dialectics of boundaries of identification. The study reveals culture as a symbolic rather than structural construct as experienced by its members, seeing the community as a cultural field with a complex of symbols whose meanings vary amongst its members. Thus, connection and contiguity of culture continually transform the meaning of community, space and place. As such, community continues to be of both practical and ideological significance to the practice of anthropology.
Amoamo, M. (2012), "Fieldwork in Remote Communities: An Ethnographic Case Study of Pitcairn Island", Hyde, K.F., Ryan, C. and Woodside, A.G. (Ed.) Field Guide to Case Study Research in Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure (Advances in Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 417-438. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1871-3173(2012)0000006026Download as .RIS
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