Autoethnography: ‘research, writing, story, and method that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural, social, and political’ (Ellis, 2004)
Autoethnography has allowed me, as the researcher, to move beyond traditional methods of research and writing, and enabled me to use stream-of-consciousness thought and a digital artefact to help convey my own experience navigating my way through a foreign culture. Throughout the semester I struggled with, what seemed to be, a step-back from the theory-driven methods that are often drilled into us at university. However upon reflection, I feel that approaching my research autoethnographically has allowed for a more immersive and informative experience.
According to Bochner and Ellis (2006), an autoethnographic researcher is first and foremost a communicator and a storyteller, and this is something I agree with. I haven’t been just communicating someone else’s ideas, I have been experiencing a foreign digital media form and expressing my personal thoughts, feelings and observations, which is somewhat refreshing, in my opinion, for both the communicator and the audience.
Rick Sheridan, in his article ‘Autoethnography: An Introduction to a unique research method’ lists a number of autoethnography prompts, ideas to get the autoethnography research processs started. As I looked through these questions I realised that by attempting to understand/become involved in Now On My Way To Meet You, I have answered some of these questions implicitly. As I researched the context of the show I realised the assumptions and prejudices that I brought into the research as a 21 year old Australian girl who has never experienced one ounce of the struggle of the shows stars. And even after almost a whole semester attempting to understand the show, I am resigned to the fact that there will always be unexplainable holes in my general understanding because, no matter how hard I try, there is a cultural gap that can not be overcome by simply knowing the history behind South and North Korean politics.
‘The researcher shows people in the process of personal discovery, making choices, interacting with other humans – it provides insight into the meaning of their struggles’ (Sheridan, n.d). I think that my digital artefact (mainly the twitter feed) affirms this documentation of ‘struggle’. I found so much of my research frustrating because I was unable to find online versions of the show with English subtitles and was forced to rely on news articles and small translated YouTube clips.
By reflecting on my experiences of Now On My Way To Meet You throughout the semester I can confidently say that I have been challenged on a cultural and intellectual level as I attempted to transplant this digital Asian media into an Australian context. My research epiphany, an integral part of research as explained by Ellis, Adams & Bochner in their article Autoethnography: An Overview, came as I ultimately realised that this could not happen. Now On My Way To Meet You is so deeply dependent on the ingrained societal prejudices of South Korea that it would lose its social and political potency if it were to be implanted into another countries context. This is the most unique and powerful element of the show. The element that confused, entertained, educated, interested and challenged me throughout my research.