Identity/Identities and Fieldwork: Studying Homeopathy and Tai Chi 'at home' in South London


  • Christine Barry University of Brunel



This reflexive paper presents the issues around my changing identity/identities during, and after, ethnographic fieldwork "at home" in South London, studying homeopathy and Tai Chi in the community. I will firstly explore this change of identity as a rite of passage using Wengle's notion of symbolic death of identity. This analysis, while useful, is limited in that it can be seen to over-essentialise the concept of identity. I will go on to show how my shifting identities in and after fieldwork were not solely the result of an individual psychological process but were constructed in contextual interaction with others as an embodied participant. It is my belief that ‘going native’ aided my understanding of the embodied experience of being part of alternative groups, but made coming out of the field a difficult time emotionally.

Author Biography

Christine Barry, University of Brunel

Christine Barry has worked her way through the social science disciplines, holding degrees in geography and psychology and having worked on sociological academic research projects for 9 years. She has finally found a home in anthropology and is currently a PhD student in the Social Anthropology Department at Brunel University, conducting an ethnographic study of homeopathy and Tai Chi in the community and in the NHS in South London. She can be contacted at christy.barry(AT)