Researching tourism and development in Southeast Asia: Methodological insights

Dolezal, C., Trupp, A. and Leepreecha, P. 2020. Researching tourism and development in Southeast Asia: Methodological insights. in: Dolezal, C., Trupp, A. and Bui, H.T (ed.) Tourism and Development in Southeast Asia London Routledge.

Chapter titleResearching tourism and development in Southeast Asia: Methodological insights
AuthorsDolezal, C., Trupp, A. and Leepreecha, P.
EditorsDolezal, C., Trupp, A. and Bui, H.T
Abstract

The previous chapters have established the significance of tourism in the region of Southeast Asia, both in its contribution to economy and sustainable development. They also demonstrated the widely researched nature of the field, engaged in both by scholars from the region, and researchers outside the region. Little though has been written specifically on conducting research in the region from a methodological point of view. Amongst very few discussions on research methodology, Mura and Pahlevan Sharif (2015) mapped tourism research in Southeast Asia and showed that quantitative approaches are generally preferred over qualitative methodologies. More extensively, Mura and Khoo-Lattimore (2018) in their edited volume on Asian qualitative research, compiled 16 chapters discussing ontological, epistemological, and methodological assumptions underlying Asian tourism research. The book shows the diversity of ‘Asian’ qualitative tourism research, reflects on common methodologies, including ethnography and auto-ethnography, and calls for alternative discourses in tourism studies. This chapter looks specifically into ethnography as a method which has shaped tourism research in the area (Adams, 2019; Andrews, Takamitsu, & Dixon, 2018), particularly on topics such as cultural change (Picard, 2008), commodification (Cohen, 1988), identities (Adams, 2006), moral encounters (Mostafanezhad & Hannam, 2016), and touristic production (Bruner, 2005), as well as power inequalities and access to water (Cole, 2012). The authors of the present chapter draw on their experience doing ethnographic research in Thailand (Dolezal, 2011, 2015; Trupp, 2014, 2017; Leepreecha, 2014, 2016) and Indonesia (Dolezal, 2013) in the context of host perceptions (Trupp, 2014), community-based tourism (CBT) (Dolezal, 2015), gender (Trupp & Sunanta, 2017), micro-entrepreneurship (Trupp, 2017), and power relations (Dolezal, 2011, 2015; Evrard & Leepreecha, 2009a; Leepreecha, 2014; Trupp, 2015).
When researching tourism and development in Southeast Asia, scholars have been facing various challenges. Reflecting on our own personal fieldwork/research experiences while taking into consideration the works of other scholars in the region, many share similar challenges, including access to the field, language or working with interpreters, and power relations in the field.
The present chapter debates these challenges and points towards ways to address these by drawing on examples from the authors’ fieldwork in foreign (Dolezal, Trupp) or familiar fields (Leepreecha). These examples include discussions on the above mentioned challenges, with a specific focus on the emic versus etic perspective, also seen as the ‘insider-outsider’ debate. This juxtaposition of research away versus research at home is particularly useful for the present volume, not just to underline the culturally diverse backgrounds and approaches we take for our research but also to understand the different kinds of challenges we encounter – be it as researchers in familiar or foreign fields. Before reflecting on these personal experiences though, this chapter first of all sets the scene by offering a brief theoretical introduction to those thematic areas mentioned above.

Keywordstourism, development, methodology, fieldwork, Southeast Asia, reflexivity
Book titleTourism and Development in Southeast Asia
Year2020
PublisherRoutledge
Publication dates
PublishedApr 2020
Place of publicationLondon
ISBN9780367209254
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/Dolezal,C.

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