Autoethnographic research; is a personal investigation and examination of a culture in hindsight to your own past experiences and culture. Due to this being an intimate research process no two works have the same results as people assume the world differently to each other.
Or in more professional words, “Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)” (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011)
As I move though this subject I think to myself… ‘I’ve already done this.’ Spring semester 2016 I went on exchange and studied at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou – China. And yes, I kept personal documentation:
Although it says New York and not China, the book was relevantly selected, I walked through about 6 (slightly exaggerated) of these security checks along two street blocks before I was finally allowed to enter the forbidden city and by misdirection and mistranslation, also witnessed the embalmed body of Chairman Mao.
During the selected reading, I decided that my diary and personal experience in China was was a personal narrative or ‘writing as therapeutic’. Although it won’t influence women’s right as Friedan did in the 1960’s, it was a great way for me to record differences in culture, the people I met, my feelings and to make sense of myself and my experiences (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011).
What intrigued me the most about the reading was the question of ethics – becoming friends with the people you are researching. Reliability – memory or information which may not be translated to its full extent of meaning; and validity – is it realistic/did it really happen, because without proof we are just taking the researchers personal word for it. These are a few things that scholars criticise in regards to Autoethnography.
One last thing that I picked out of the reading was how authoethnography was “Producing meaningful, accessible, and evocative research grounded in personal experience, research that would sensitize readers” (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011)
Whether or not this is relevant, this reminded me of documentaries by David Attenborough. Along with the research, the footage and all the effort put into educating us about animals, he would attempt to put himself in the wild habitat and culture of the animal as much/close as he could to give a personal take on them as well.
- Ellis, C, Adams, T.E, Bochner, A.P 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, viewed 14 August 2017, http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095