Author: charisseadair

Law/Media and Communication Studies Student. Dog-Enthusiast. Pad Thai Lover.

Auto|Ethno|Graphy: Me|Myself|(and) I

Being accelerated in English in high school, it was constantly drilled into me to critically reflect on material without divulging too much into my own personal, cultural and social persona; that is, without using the terms ‘me’, ‘myself’, and ‘I’. And now to be studying a subject that encourages self-reflexivity through autoethnography, I was initially feeling overwhelmed to go against everything I had been taught in school.

Autoethnography, according to Ellis et al, is a non-traditional approach to research and writing that ‘seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)’. Essentially, it is to consciously regard your personal and social experiences in order to create a deeper cultural understanding. This creates more meaningful research and production, and as Ellis et al notes, ‘acknowledges subjectivity and emotionality’.

It is arguable that most people already use their own narratives to find familiarities in texts, with their subconscious conducting methods of autoethnography. For example, when watching Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 Japanese anime, Akira, this week, I often found myself looking to the cultural dynamics of the girls in the film; namely, their depiction, treatment, and relationships. From my own social and personal understanding and values, I felt like these young girls were in deeply toxic environments and this portrayal went unquestioned within the film’s universe. I was then able to reflect on and critique aspects of this treatment in our modern society. By making these connections and analysing them, we are able to further question the subject matter that we consume and create.

giphy1

((Terrible!!))

This hybridity of autobiography and ethnography further breaks the limitations of traditional research as a method of overcoming adversity and giving a voice to the experiences of those who may not usually share a mainstream research platform. This is because by opening up our research pools, we are able to draw in multiple insights; a multitude of researchers, values, beliefs, experiences, traditions and backgrounds.

All autoethnographic research, however, stems from personal epiphanies. Analysing these epiphanies brings the researcher closer to creating content for others so they may experience similar epiphanies. For example, one of my own personal epiphanies flourished when I was seventeen years old. Being half-Filipina, half-Irish, I struggled all my life to find a culture to completely fit into, with elements of both cultures not being completely accepting of mixed-race individuals. During one of my trips to the Philippines I met other half-Filipino people and watched the content that they created on social media, and this encouraged my own self-acceptance and desire to create a platform that embraced the intersectionality of both Western and Asian cultures; thus creating my Youtube channel, Tagalog Tuesdays.

I look forward to delving deeper into this new research approach, and treating the narcissist in me, whilst also finding the capability to allow others to consider their own experiences.

References

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>.

Alsop, Christiane K. (2002) Home and Away: Self ReflexiveAuto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research 3:3. <http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/Positionality/auto-eth.pdf>.

Up Your Game: Professional Gaming (And Me)

As a technologically-inept girl, I never thought I would feel such intrigue, fascination and heartache following the world of professional gaming and E-Sports. In fact, the whole concept of stadium video-gaming was so foreign to me, as my gaming ability extends only so far as the virtual realms of the Sims, Neopets, and the exhilaratingly wild universe of Shrek 2 on Playstation (severely underrated).

My perception of the professional gaming industry quickly widened after watching filmmaker Steven Dhoedt’s 2013 documentary, State of Play, which followed the lives of three Starcraft players engaging in their ambition to live as expert gamers in South Korea.

The documentary itself did not have much information on the actual technicalities of the game, which made it easier for myself to follow and enjoy whilst also setting up the premise that the focus of the story is not so much on the strategies of the video game, but the social and cultural dynamics surrounding the world of E-Sports.

Being a young Eurasian girl, the themes of sacrifice, age, family, gender and tradition resonated greatly with me, and I can honestly say I did not think I would find any level of relatability in a documentary such as this.

Coming from a Filipina-Irish background with much older parents, and a heavily Catholic mother, I can strongly understand the familial significance placed on religion and tradition. The documentary explored the duties the players felt they owed to their roots and signified the cost of ambition in the digital 21st Century and how this can clash with the paradigms of older generations.

One of the things that surprised me was how much this film spoke volumes on masculinity and femininity issues in South Korea, and I really enjoyed how Dhoedt explored this. With my family being made up largely by strong-minded women and almost all Filipino families being headed by a matriarch, I think the demonstration of Asian gender roles was stereotypical of women carrying the emotional labour (the young, emotional fangirls in the stadium) and the men having trouble engaging with emotion in public settings. There was, however, this strong bond within the team of players where they displayed a good sense of platonic physical affection, noticeable in a lot of team sports, and I thought this was interestingly similar to a lot of Western sports as well; possibly noting that team sports are a universal outlet men use to explore affection and vulnerability, although I am not familiar enough to make that assumption.

giphy (1)

I have found it particularly interesting to apply self-reflexivity in this context, and did not think I would actually find any resonation by comparing and contrasting my own life with those of a discipline such as professional Starcraft gaming. Overall, I look forward to exploring domains outside my usual interests, but also, at the risk of sounding like a meme, I would love to see Shrek 2 in the sphere of professional gaming if it does not yet exist.

giphy

References

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>.

Alsop, Christiane K. (2002) Home and Away: Self ReflexiveAuto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research 3:3. <http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/Positionality/auto-eth.pdf>.