What I Relate To Autoethnography – What a bloody big word!

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.

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  1. Hey great post !
    I like how you explained in your own words what auto-ethnography meant to you before giving the standard journal definition. The story you shared also really invited me in to something that you have experienced as well which was great.
    The points that you wrote about from the reading were good too.
    I just wish there was something on what you are planning to study throughout the semester.
    Anyway thanks for the read.


  2. Really good overview of what autoethnography is and your understanding/experience of it.

    I also found the ethics of autoethnography interesting. I found myself thinking about how autoethnographers might ensure that their work is both reliable and valid when it is based on their own experience. I guess the most successful autoethnography is when analytical research and qualitative experience are balanced and back one another up, ensuring that the overall research presented is truthful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your post engages the audience through your own experiences in China and own way of comprehending auto-ethnography using Ellis’ work as a tool to explain your own analysis. Bravo.

    Taking quotes and small bits of the reading and going into depth with multiple real life examples made for an enjoyable read.

    Your allusion to the ethics of auto-ethnography and the limitations of this form of research was also brilliant. I also find the criticisms of auto-ethnography to be quite interesting, this paper goes through the advantages, limitations and criticisms of the research style: (http://www.academia.edu/16588062/Autoethnography_as_a_research_method_Advantages_limitations_and_criticisms)

    Once again, great post.


    Liked by 1 person

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