Understanding Autoethnography

After reading Ellis et al Autoethnography: An Overview, the Autoethnographic process was pretty straight forward and easy to understand. In layman’s terms, its the combination of the study of ethnography, which is studying a culture, understanding their beliefs & values, and how they form relationships, and autobiography, which is the study of one’s personal experiences, pretty much their life story.

When you combine the two studies, you get autoethnography – The study of a culture, through an individual’s own personal experiences when immersed in that culture. Well, thats how I understood it.

The more I thought about the concept of autoethnography, I realised that everyone can or has experienced ethnography. People who travel the world and immerse themselves in another culture, experiencing the wonders of said cultures, are gaining a personal insight  and learning about how that culture functions. I remember when I was ten years old travelling to Greece, my mum bought me a diary to write in. In the diary, I wrote about what happened throughout the day, where we went, what we ate etc.

However, what separates a world traveler from an autoethnographer, is how analytical they are of their experience. Like Mitch Allen mentions, “everyone has their own story, but what makes your story more valid is that you’re a researcher. You have a set of theoretical and methodological tools and a research literature to use.”

As I understand, there are different ways of how to approach writing about autoethnography. For example, an indigenous ethnographer will focus on power, how they can address the issues and disrupt it.  The utilisation of interviews can add an element of emotion and insight to the piece that the autoethnographer may not be able to provide. For example, it would be like me interviewing a family member in Greece about what it is like to be living in Greece. My experience would be from the point of view of someone on holiday, not really understanding what its like to actually live in the country.

From Autoethnography: An Overview, I now know the methodology and the process behind autoethnography and I look forward to applying different forms of autoethnography throughout this semester, and to gain a further understanding of Asian media culture by immersing myself through the multiple forms of entertainment that it provides.

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