Author: Vlasios Michalopulos

Autoethnography and Underground Music

Autoethnography is a type of research and writing unlike any other. Combining the process of ethnography; the study of culture, and autobiography; the product of personal experience. It is the study of one’s own experience with a culture outside of their own. It is a fairly new research process, first becoming popular in the 1970s, which expanded upon anthropological studies of the past which were conducted in a far less personal, experiential, or reflexive manner. Autoethnography is seen as an ethical form of research as it focuses on ones’ own experience with a culture rather than making anonymous observations which may breach privacy, disrespect customs and simply be untrue.

As autoethnography is the combination of autobiography and ethnography it adopts elements of both practices in its methodology. In commencing an autoethnography one must ensure that they communicate with the community or culture they are studying, this is a matter of ethnically giving those who do not wish to participate a chance to voice their concerns and opt out if need be. As per traditional ethnography upon communicating intentions, the researcher must then interact with the culture, making note of observations and interviewing persons within the culture, becoming participant observers. In conducting an autoethnography one must also practice reflexive behaviour which is the practice of questioning their personal the biases and cultural framework that shape their observations. The aspect of autobiographical aspect of autoethnography refers to the epiphanies as to how one understands a culture; its social conventions, practices, values, and beliefs.

The Asian media I am interested in participating and observing is its underground rock, at this point in time, I am unsure of what region or country I am wanting to pinpoint in my practice as a researcher. My interest in the Asian underground music community has been spurred from this Vice documentary which focuses on a group of Indonesian street punks upon their release from a moral rehabilitation centre. As I want to limit my bias I will aim to avoid Indonesian underground music in my study as I would like to go into this study with as little preconceived ideas that may skew my observation, analysis, and insights as possible.

References

Wall, S. (2008). Easier Said than Done: Writing an Autoethnography. International Journal Of Qualitative Methods7(1), 38-53. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/160940690800700103

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

 

 

Gojira (1954) Through the Eyes of an Ethnic Australian

Gojira (1954) is the film that kickstarted the never-ending production of narratives and reimaginings of Godzilla. In viewing the film in this week’s seminar with the aim of exploring not the film itself but the way in which I make sense of the film.

In viewing the film I was able to deduce that the narrative of the film in itself was a metaphor for the impact of nuclear warfare upon the Japanese people. I was able to interpret that through my knowledge of the events of WWII and the year the film was released, seemingly at a time when Japan was still immediately grappling with the immediate aftermath of the hydrogen bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the firebombing of Tokyo. Godzilla can be seen as the superpower of the United States. 

While as stated above I am able to understand the nature of the film through looking at the historical perspective and the Japanese zeitgeist at the time of production I more closely understand the film through my personal identity. As a second-generation Australian whom has often struggled to navigate mainstream Australian culture with a “strong” ethnic name and has constantly searched for something to belong to I found myself empathising with Godzilla character. Godzilla is portrayed as blindly destroying buildings and infrastructure, only becoming violent when agitated by gunfire and electric attacks, and if intercepted and integrated onto the mainland in a manner that suited both Godzilla and the Japanese people a much more peaceful outcome could have been reached. Throughout the film I felt that the Japanese officials did not spend enough time trying to understand the supposed monster; turning to violence far too soon, not giving any thought to the nonviolent means which could be used to resolve and de-escalate the situation. 

Upon reflection I feel that at the time of production and release, Japanese culture was in a state xenophobia, whether that was the case or not, as an ethnic Australian whom grew up at the time of and in close proximity to the Cronulla Race Riots I cannot interpret the film or Japanese culture in 1954 any other way. While I know that these postwar attitudes are not at all carried in 2017 Japan through personal interactions and consumption of Japanese media Gojira provides a snapshot of the attitudes of Japanese peoples in 1954.