The “Eliznik” web pages (www.eliznik.org.uk), an English language website based in the UK covering Romanian music, dance, and costume, were first uploaded to the worldwide web in May 1999. Since that time the site has expanded to over 700 pages1, and has led to over 300 emails being exchanged with people from all over the world, both Romanians and non Romanians. A Google search on ‘Eliznik’ currently gives around 10,800 ‘hits’ and the Eliznik website is referenced thirty nine times in the on-line Wikipedia Encyclopaedia. The site is written by Liz Mellish and Nick Green from the UK who have spent many years visiting Romania and collecting the resources which have allowed this site to be created. In this paper I will be considering the role that this and similar websites play in the provision of ethnographic knowledge in virtual space, by examining the experiences of the authors of this site over the period since the site’s inception. The question I will be asking is whether the concept of ‘virtual ethnography’ is a valid notion and if so whether this should solely be the premise of the indigenous academic or can the foreign researcher play an important role in the global dissemination of knowledge. In order to do this I will draw on statistics gathered for usage of the site from commencement to the present, and examine the statistical placing of the Eliznik website relative to comparable sites on the web. I will also carry out a qualitative analysis of email exchanges resulting from use of the site and look at the source material used both to compile the pages and to compile responses to these email exchanges. ‘But why are you interested in Romania? What is your Romanian connection?’ The authors’ of the Eliznik web pages have been asked these or similar questions on numerous occasions. Why should two English people, with no genealogical connection to Romania or anywhere else in south-east Europe, spend so much of their lives exploring the ethnography and history of this area?
2006. “Doing’ ethnography in virtual space. The experience of running an English language website on Romanian ethnography based in the UK.” Mihai Fifor (editor), Symposia – Caiete de Etnologie si Antropologie 2006. 143-156, Craiova, Romania: Muzeul Olteniei Craiova. ISSN 1583–7459.