So I’m not going to lie to you here, writing blog posts in which I have to understand and reiterate my understanding of a concept or reading… well they scare the living heck out of me. I’ve always got the thought in my mind that… what if I understand it wrong and everything I’ve written is just messy and no one understands and oh god what have I done? Yet, the due date is looming so here we go.
Autoethnography. Not a new concept I’ve come into contact with. (That’ll happen when you’re in your fourth year of study). Through the years, the idea of reflecting through blog posts and researching has woven itself through my study. Deciphering this reading and trying to wrap my head around the content was surprising to me in the fact that it was much simpler to understand than I had previously thought. I have always understood the fact that everything I take in and all my beliefs are due to my upbringing and my background. Yet, it was quite jarring to understand that the way I react to certain cultures is also because of my own cultural context.
“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 et al. 2011)
I personally understand autoethnography to be a form of qualitative research where the author immerses themselves and uses self-reflection to explore their personal experience. Though, I don’t believe it stops there. To really understand autoethnographic research, it is vital to connect the first reaction or reflection to a wider understanding, such as cultural, political or just social background. This form of research formulates personal connections between the researcher and the text, but then allows them to think about the text and themselves in a wider context. I believe that this type of research can be extremely rewarding, but it doesn’t mean that academic research isn’t also critical.
It also makes you wonder – you’ve probably been conducting some type of autoethnographic research at some level all your life. We’ve undergone new cultural experiences many times in our lives. Having digested this reading made me understand that without even knowing it, I was conducting autoethnographic research on my trip to Europe earlier this year. This was done through the use of video blogging (vlogging) where I documented my trip, my experience with new cultures and foods and many of the wonders of Europe. (I was really getting a head start on all this autoethnography business, so go me).
I believe that the issue of reflexivity is highly important when it comes to these studies. We need to understand ourselves and our own personal framework and how our own bias will enable us to understand and reflect on our autoethnographic research. I know 100% that my Italian background makes engaging with other cultures, such as Asian cultures different to those who are exposed to similar cultures.
My best friend is Vietnamese and it’s through her and her family that I have had the chance to be exposed to a lot more Asian media and customs than I would have been exposed to if we hadn’t become friends in High School. I remember once, she got be a Japanese Candy Kit (this one in particular was called Kracie Happy Kitchen), where you mix powder and water together and it makes mini food! I was honestly amazed. It tasted like an actual burger!! What the heck! I had never been exposed to this kind of thing before. Italians only had pasta and home made focaccia (hello, I was not complaining) but I was honestly amazed by this little contraption and wanted more.
I’m so excited to explore more into Asian Cultures. I am excited to create short videos of myself reacting to the types of products like the ones above, but also beauty related products such as the bubble mask (how cool!!). I think that Asian cultures can come up with a lot of cool products and I am definitely keen to check them out!