The nomads of Mykonos : consuming discourses of otherness in a polysemic tourist space
This thesis is an anthropological study of consumption and self-construction on the Greek tourist island of Mykonos. The ethnographic material is collected from informants/agents of an, initially, heterogeneous cultural background and with a highly individualistic discourse, who, paradoxically, form a group. The identity of this new Mykonian group of exogenous 'locals' is self-created and draws on several 'local' myths. Therefore, the ethnography concentrates on the discursive making of these myths. The characteristic all these myths share is that they revolve around a common theme: symbolic 'otherness'. This discursive otherness, is initially reflected in the emerging myth of the cosmopolitan place in which it is performed, the place-myth of Mykonos. But symmetrically in our case, the myth of the place, counter-reflects the myth of its subjects. A series of invented 'heroes' gradually prospers in the mythical space of 'otherness': first the reckless, unorthodox locals; then the eccentric 'first visitors' followed by the alternative groups of the seventies, the subcultural groups of the eighties and the tribestyles of the nineties. The myth of this spatial 'otherness', apart from the peculiar groupings which it simultaneously attracts and creates, is also a propagator of self- myths. The thesis explores the construction of selves and communities through their consumption patterns, manipulation of aesthetics, invented rituals and a distinctive set of social practices, but primarily through their discursive otherness. The myth of the idiosyncratic space is echoed in the myth of their unclassified and fetishised selves. Nevertheless, the 'anarchic' property of the space is its only consistent pattern and, in turn, a source of communal identity. The discourse of locality that stems out of these 'mythologies' celebrates a highly subjective pattern of aesthetic 'otherness'. The bonding of all these myths lies precisely in their taste for 'difference'. The fetishisation of the self reflects upon the fetishisation of space; as much as, the fetishisation of space reflects upon the fetishisation of the self.