The word destination has a polysemic power which invites thoughts from distant domains. In an ordinary sense it is a place one has to reach. But destination as metaphor packs layers of meaning. Instead of becoming an end point, a terminal, it becomes a symbolic crossroad, a meeting point, a journey. A convergence of different imaginaries. Destination invokes both the idea of travel and pilgrimage. Physically it conveys a sense of reaching a place. Symbolically it becomes a rite of passage where arrival is both transformation and departure. The power of the word allows for interpretation, for metaphor, for unexpected usages. A word generally restricted to pilgrimage or travel, now becomes a pretext to understand field work. The anthropological rite to study a different society.
The idea of field work juxtaposed to destination might seem surprising. But by applying such a term to field work one breaks the current stereotypes of science. Field work is seen as the scientific act of studying the other. In a scientific sense it becomes a catechism of dos and don’ts. It often fetishises rigour and technique, often fossilising the fluidity of conversation into a rigidity of a questionnaire. The idea of field work as destination opens it up to a different set of questions and metaphor. Instead of the scientism of exploration, it becomes the pilgrimage of the self; instead of emphasising objectivity one includes meaning and to the rigor of professionalism one adds a sense of play. Field work then becomes more than a cautionary ritual that an outsider must follow. In fact, inside and outside, neighbourhood and distance become blurred, creating an image of self and other which is both discovery and invention. As a narrative, field work becomes a hybrid entity, a geographical mix of margin and mainstream which helps provide new insight.