Between April 20 and May 17, 2013 I will be on a research tour of six Asian countries/cities (India/Mumbai; Malaysia/Kuala Lumpur; Indonesia/Jakarta; Japan/Tokyo; South Korea/Seoul; China/Shanghai) to explore the nature of, and attitudes towards, public spitting.
The primary aim is to gain a better understanding of the varying forms of spitting in each location and the ways that it is embedded within each of the dominant cultures. A further aim is to explore the ways that outside (foreign) pressures which decree spitting to be uncivilised are being internalised, particularly by elites, in those countries and how they are, or are not, reacting to it. Finally, I am also interested in how sentiments of ‘disgust’ (which is essentially a social preference) over spitting have become entwined with specific discourses of risk and fear (spitting as a transmitter of disease) to add apparent scientific legitimacy as to why spitting should be banned. These latter discourses, it is worth noting, are essentially unproven epidemiologically but are nonetheless widely believed and propagated.
The trip thus involves visiting six major Asian cities in the space of just twenty-six days with many of those days also involving transfer to/from the respective destinations. The trip will be demanding physically but also in research terms: how to retrieve enough meaningful data to reasonably explore and comment on spitting in public in each location? A strategy for managing this will be revealed as the blog progresses and each of the emergent difficulties, issues and unexpected benefits will be described on a (hopefully) daily basis.
I will also seek to provide cross-cultural insight into a range of experiences and thus provide an observational travelogue of how travel/research/observation/reflection and some background reading intersect to produce an odyssey of sorts.
In each location I will be accompanied by a local ‘guide’ (usually a postgraduate student from the local university) to enable me to travel without difficulty in short periods of time, to provide access to people and places and to discuss common everyday aspects of life, culture and spitting in each city. These individuals may well become research partners and help with further depth research into the issue even after my departure.
My Itinerary is:
April 20 depart Devon for London
April 21/22 depart London Heathrow and arrive in India (Mumbai)
April 27 depart Mumbai and arrive in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)
April 30 depart Kuala Lumpur and arrive in Indonesia (Jakarta)
May 2 depart Jakarta and arrive in Japan (Tokyo)
May 6 depart Tokyo and arrive in South Korea (Seoul)
May 10 depart Seoul and arrive in China (Shanghai)
May 17 depart Shanghai for London