Week 5

autoethnography1-2

The Art of Autoethnography: Part III

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Studying languages comes easily for some and is a curse for others. I am one of the latter. I have friends that can speak multiple languages fluently and yet I can’t seem to get any further than my native tongue. I am somebody who has attempted to study several languages and not succeeded, even with the help of classes, tutors and so on. Because of this I find it fascinating that people could simply use a TV Show or a game to learn a foreign language. Whether is be stories of migrant learning a language through a TV Show or kids picking up a language through their favourite card game, the evidence for the success of the use of media as a tool for language acquisition is overwhelming.

These observations and stories of language acquisition success have brought me to form a topic for autoethnographic study in this area. Looking language acquisition through Asian language media texts. The answers that I am seeking to discover are not just simply can I learn any aspects of the language but also what can I learn about the culture of that language in the process.

Autoethnography is an approach to research that combines methodological tools and literature with personal experience to obtain a greater understanding of culture. (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011)

To complete the methodology in this autoethnographic study I will combine literature research relating to the study of languages and testimonials/news stories regarding people who have learnt languages using media texts. This will be combined with the personal experience of using Asian language media texts in order to learn aspects and vocabulary of various Asian languages.

When looking online the extent of language learning resources and tips for learning languages can be overwhelming. To obtain some ideas about the types of media texts to use for this research I chose to collate some of the suggestions from a simple google search and the following table summarises what I found.

Brave Learning –       Listen to foreign language radio stations

–       Foreign language poems

–       Podcasts

–       Surf the web in a different language

–       Foreign language TV channels

–       Read a foreign language book

–       Write a foreign language blog post

–       Play games in a different language

Fluent U –       Browse reddit (thematically-orientated to one specific region)

–       Use region specific social media

–       Play online video games (use Twitch, language specific)

–       Date in the language (try tinder etc.)

Pick the Brain –       Television (Taiwanese dramas: Sugoideas.com, Korean, Japanese, Chinese Mandarin: Dramafever.com, Japanese anime: Crunchyroll.com)

–       Foreign film movies and trailers

–       Listening to music in your target language

Franglish –       Listen to music in your chosen language

–       Read foreign language comic books

This research gave me some great ideas for a starting point. I chose to not focus on the choice of language as a driving factor for choosing the texts but to simply find texts which interest me not matter the language which the text was done in. this research will not in no means result in me being fluent in a language but I hoped what I would gain from this research is some vocabulary in a language be it only a couple of words and no more. But what I also hope to gain from this experience is a better understanding of language in the context of these various texts.

What I needed to be careful of was as stated by Anderson (2006) not to allow this research to devolve into self-absorption and that would result in the loss of its sociological promise.

Autoethnography allows for creativity in regards to its presentation, going beyond traditional methods of writing. While my research will be writing it will take the shape of journal entries documenting my progress and research through blog posts on my personal blog these posts will simply provide a home for the Snapchat videos documenting my personal experiences throughout this autoethnographic study and allow me to expand and reflect upon my findings.

To start off this autoethnographic research I will include a brief account of my first autoethnographic encounter, learning a language through a Bollywood film. I choose a Bollywood film for three reasons.

  1. It was easy to obtain
  2. I have watched Bollywood movies before and quite enjoy them
  3. And finally, as this was the first emersion into this research I thought I would ease myself in with the language through something that I was familiar with.

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My progress of language acquisition and the Snapchat videos detailing my personal experience will have to wait till my next post but a few things that I did note are;

  • Subtitles don’t always make sense
  • The pause and rewind button got a work out.
  • It was a lot easier to keep up with the dialogue then the songs due to the pace.
  • Attempting to learn aspects of the language and document it at the same time meant that I did not become involved in the storyline of the text at all and watching the movie took twice as long therefore I didn’t finish it because Bollywood movies are already two hours long.
  • The key words I found myself picking up are the ones which sparked my interest, random words which either stood out or were part of the sentences which had unusual sounding subtitles.
  • This approach to learning a language may help with understanding slang or colloquial phrases in a foreign language but it still only provides you with snippets of the language as a whole
  • It does not at all permit the acquisition of written language.

 

Reference List

Anderson, Leon 2006, Analytic Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 373-393.

Ellis, C., Adams, T. and Bochner, A. (2011). Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, [online] 12(1). Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2016].

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. (2013). [film] Johar, K. & Johar, H.

 

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Dal Bhat Proposal

For my individual research project, I will be re-creating the Nepali dal bhat experience. Dal bhat is a traditional Nepali meal consisting of rice, lentil soup and a variation of curry, chutney and bread. I will do this by first reflecting on my time spent in Nepal/ Thailand/ Vietnam in July of this year. Next I will reflect on the traditions of my family home. Finally, I will try to re-create a similar ‘traditional experience’ I had in Nepal with my family in Bomaderry, NSW.

As part of my project I will reflect on different cultural traditions stemming from food. I expect to find that with the introduction of certain trade agreements, the immigration of Asian people to Australia and the internet (in particular search engines such as Google) has informed both cultures of such traditions.

Aslop’s (2002) Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-Ethnography, inspired me to take the approach of reflecting on my own ‘home’ experiences in comparison to the reflection of my time spent ‘away.’  As mentioned in my last post, a lot of Aslop’s feelings and insights resonate with me as someone who has multiple ‘homes.’ In the text, Alsop highlights that those who study other cultures should explore their home. Aslop also explains the importance of self-reflexivity when partaking in autoethnographic research. Each autoethnographic text I have read has been very engaging and clear, I plan to follow this same technique in my blog writing and in the final presentation of my research.

After researching different types of autoethnographic studies I was presented with Weiskopf-Ball’s auto-ethnographic study of evolving traditional food. I wish to create something similar to this study, drawing on my experiences with in-depth research. Weiskopf-Ball’s study analyses the ways in which the expectations of traditional foods have been adapted over generations.

METHODOLOGY

I will be telling a story of my time in Asia alongside my re-created experience in Australia, thus my research will take the form of a narrative ethnography. Ellis et al (2011) explain narrative ethnographies to incorporate the ethnographer’s experience into the ethnographic descriptions and analysis of others. Ellis et al (2011) highlights that the narrative often intersects with analyses of patterns and processes. I hope that throughout the re-creation of my dal bhat experience with my family, it will bring back  memories from Nepal.

MY TIME IN NEPAL (Background)

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Where I lived for two weeks

I was in Nepal for two weeks as part of a volunteering program with IVHQ (a worldwide volunteering agency). I was away from ‘home’ on a solo trip for four weeks. My trip first began in Vietnam then to Nepal and ended in Thailand. In Nepal I was placed in Chitwan, a very rural, hot and dry area. In Chitwan, I taught at a local school. I was mostly there as a relief teacher and played games with the children. The ages of the children at the school ranged from 4 years to 18 years. I also had the chance to teach English, which was extremely difficult. In Chitwan I stayed with a man called Sanjeev and his mother, who we called Aama. I also stayed with six other volunteers. Everyday we were given two meals which were both dal bhat. All the volunteers ate together….it sort of became the best part of the day as often we didn’t receive any food during the day, so by 7pm at night we were starving. It was also the time we spent trying to communicate with Aama, a beautiful woman who welcomes volunteers into her home on a weekly basis.

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It is important to note, that the reason for my trip was to escape my familiar routine that I was becoming complacent with in Wollongong. I was ready to immersive myself into others cultures, learn new things and reflect on my life back home. If my time spent away was to have a holiday, I would have not made the same observations and potentially not have been able to reflect on the experience like I am for this project.

MAIN POINTS TO NOTE ABOUT ‘NEPAL DAL BHAT’ EXPERINCE:

14247542_10154620265669427_1991458102_oIn comparison to our stimulated ‘auto-ethnographic’ experiences in class – I am drawing on a past experience that I wasn’t aware I would be reflecting on in such detail. Ellis et all (2011) explains that the author of auto-ethnographic research does not live through these experiences to make them part of a published document.

 

  • We ate together at the same time each day (10am and 7pm)
  • No one wore shoes in the kitchen
  • My host family ate with their right hand but we were provided with a fork and spoon
  • A lot of the food was made at the start of the week and then re-heated
  • The boys at the table were given three times as much food as the girls
  • There was no running water, water was sourced from a pump in the bottom of the ground
  • The food had all been sourced locally from farms (were I lived was surrounded by rice fields)
  • The curry was sometimes really mild and other times really spicy
  • Most of the time we ate in dim lighting or darkness due to the scheduled power cuts everyday
  • Meat was a not often available, there were plenty of goats in the village being fed well to be eaten in a few months time
  • There was no cooling system in Nepal and the average temperature was 30 degrees and 100% humidity, so often I spend the majority of dinner wiping sweat from my forehead and neck.

My family (in Bomaderry’s) usual traditional meal:

  • When I lived at home my family and I sat together every night for dinner
  • The majority of my friends didn’t eat at the same time as their parents and were allowed to eat in front of the television on in their room
  • Our most recurring meal was an Indian meal (usually a Rogan Josh curry) on a Sunday night, I have always found this bizarre as my parents (who grew up in Ireland) would have had a traditional roast beef every Sunday after church
  • We always ate with a knife and fork, it would be considered rude to use our hands
  • The only items of food we source ourselves were eggs from our chickens and herbs (mint, coriander, parsley)
  • Most items of food were sourced from the local supermarket – we never pay much attention to where I food comes from

In my next post, I will reflect back on the observations made above paired with further research.

References: 

Aslop, C K, 2002, ‘Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research, 3., 3.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12., 1.

Weiskopf-Ball, E 2012, ‘Eating Up Tradition: An Autoethnographic study of evolving traditional food, ‘Integrated studies project, Athabasca Alberta.

 

 

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The Getting of Culture: A proposal for a non-linear exploration of the emergence of Bitcoin in China

My individual research project will explore the Bitcoin phenomenon in China. Introduced in 2009, Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic payment system that bitcoin-mining-imageharnesses decentralised networking technologies to enable payments without the need for a central authorising agency (Bitcoin Group 2015, p.26). Bitcoin is often referred to as a form of cryptocurrency or virtual currency because it exists purely in an electronic form (Bitcoin Group 2015, p.26). Bitcoin is “mined” by supercomputers which solve difficult mathematical formulas to generate the currency (Murray 2016). As of 30 November 2015, 14.9 million Bitcoins had been mined (Bitcoin Group 2015, p.26).

In recent years, China has become a market for Bitcoin unlike anything in the West, fueling huge investments in mining farms as well as enormous speculative trading on Chinese Bitcoin exchanges (Popper 2016). Mines run by Chinese companies account for approximately 70 per cent of the world’s bitcoin processing power and Chinese exchanges…

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Watching Hindi TV as an Autoethnographer: Mahabharat and Live-Tweeting

I have been a fan of Bollywood film ever since I was first introduced to the three-hour classic Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham in high school. I can quite clearly remember being amazed by the intricate details in the costumes, the set designs and the drama throughout the course of the film. Last year I even dedicated my DIGC202 project to my Bollywood film experiences through the form of a YouTube channel.

Wanting to stick with something somewhat familiar to me — that being my growing appreciation for Hindi culture, —  I decided to focus my autoethnographic research project on my experience of Hindi television. In doing so, I hoped to further heighten my understanding of Indian culture and thus become a more culturally aware individual.

 

Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience.”  By live-tweeting my personal experience of a Hindi television show — an aspect of Indian culture entirely foreign to me — I hoped to produce an authentic account of my experience that could enhance my understanding of Indian culture. Autoethnography as a methodology aims to “facilitate understanding of a culture for insiders and outsiders,” and whilst viewing Hindi TV for the first time, my status as a cultural outsider became painfully apparent.

Upon deciding on experiencing Indian TV for my autoethnographic research project, I was then tasked with finding an appropriate Hindi television program. It was here that I became awfully aware of the fact that I was an outsider looking in. When choosing an Indian TV program to watch, I found it incredibly hard to locate a show online that was both accessible in Australia and had English subtitles. I initially wanted to watch a TV show called Comedy Nights with Kapil due to its SNL parallels and comedic value in India, but after several failed attempts to find an episode with English subtitles, I gave up and chose something completely different. Due to its universal accessibility — meaning it was available with English subtitles on YouTube — I chose Mahabharat as the field site of my autoethnographic research.

Mahabharat, produced and directed by B.R. and Ravi Chopra, was first aired in India in 1988. It tells the story of the Hindu epic of the same name, abounding in religious, social and political history and commentary. The 94-episode series falls into the historical-drama genre and was well received by audiences across India and made popular transnationally thanks to the diversification of Indian diaspora.

In order to share my autoethnographic experience of Mahabharat and provide a detailed account of my thoughts, feelings and interactions I decided to live-tweet whilst watching the first episode. Twitter has been utilised among many as a tool for interactive communication, accessible to the masses as a way to actively participate in conversation and debate (Kassens-Noor, 2012). In choosing Twitter as the outlet for my initial accounts of Mahabharat I was aware that my unfiltered commentary would be readily accessible to any user who happened to search the Mahabharat or DIGC330 tag. It is believed that live-tweeting “promotes connections with real-life learning, thereby encouraging critical reflection and fostering enhanced understanding” (Kassens-Noor, 2012, p.11). I wanted the live-tweeting process to not only enhance the cultural experience I was immersing myself in, but to ultimately challenge the way in which I “see how every day communication produces cultural norms” (Warren, 2009). Some of the tweets I shared whilst encountering Mahabharat for the first time — and the first impressions, cultural assumptions and opinions I had on the show — have been included below.

  • My initial commentary on the gender roles presented in Mahabharat reflected a disparity between men and women:

  • The significance of religion and spirituality in Mahabharat was addressed on several occasions:

  • Ideas and thoughts I shared on issues of translation in Mahabharat, or concepts I simply did not understand revealed my status as a ‘cultural outsider’:

  • My final tweets regarding the conclusion of the episode summed up the messages or lessons I interpreted throughout the program:

In my attempts to discern unfamiliar cultural meanings and contexts, I have been able to expand on the knowledge I had previously possessed on Indian social values and norms. Moreover, by participating in my viewing experience of Mahabharat I have been able to question my own place in the world, and how this in turn shapes the way in which I interpret or make sense of others. Mahabharat as a field site has consequently both enlightened and challenged my “assumptions of the world” and has hopefully made me a more culturally appreciative and understanding individual.


References:

  • Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P., 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1.
  • Kassens-Noor, E., 2012, ‘Twitter as a teaching practice to enhance active and informal learning in higher education: The case of sustainable tweets’, Active Learning in Higher Education, 13(1), Michigan State University, Sage Publications, pp.9-21.
  • Warren, J.T., 2009, ‘Autoethnography’ in Encyclopaedia of Communication Theory, SAGE Publications, p.68-69.
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Beautiful Seoul – How does K-Beauty measure up? Part II

In my initial project proposal, I included a multitude of observations based on hindsight recollection. I realise now that while it’s supplementary to additional research, it’s not enough anecdotal evidence to draw the kind of analysis that I expect from such a large spanning industry.

I’ve also learned a number of facts about K-Beauty that I wasn’t privy to before such as the illegality of tattoos in Seoul. As I delve further into my research, I hope to explore cultural and societal impositions upon the beauty industry. And how do they measure up in Australia?

When beginning this project, I was already aware that there are plentiful resources available that approach the K-Beauty in various ways and contexts, however, I am yet to find an integrated site that provides factual information and evidence that they intersperse with personal understandings and stories. Particularly one that comparatively analyses two separate national industries that also overlap in some places. I want to explore where this overlap is, and what factors contribute to the convergence?

Some additional research and findings I’ve made have come from the following sources:

Euromonitor’s annual industry reports provide a great framework for exploring the industry in the context of political and economic landscapes. Key trends and forecasts are offered and will be used to supplement autoethnographic based research.

In i-D’s latest video series, tattoo artist and activist Grace Neutral explores how younger generations are challenging traditional views around beauty and body image across the world.  The film follows her to South Korea as she investigates the ways in which Seoul’s youth conform and challenge mainstream beauty ideals.

This short info-film offers some amazing insights into cultural and social values surrounding image in South Korea – with a particular focus on young women. I haven’t yet decided on a target demographic for my final project, however, I’d like to keep it as audience neutral as possible, as I’d be super interested to see if I can gain reader engagement from unsuspecting groups. This might be indicative of stronger cultural beliefs, that don’t just appeal to women.

As I’m applying quite a strong marketing focus to this project I want to incorporate my project with sources that adhere to this focus also. Such as this consumer product blog written by marketing manager Vera Sandarova. This element of research is super important to my project, as I feel it may be able to provide a fairly objective means of supporting any hypothesis I have.

PART 1: https://ashleykcarolan.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/beautiful-seoul-how-does-k-beauty-measure-up/

Japanese Pro Wrestling. Beginning!

Over the past weeks I have really been enjoying the idea of autoethnography and documenting my personal experience in participating in a culture that I had previously no experience with. The parts of asian culture that I had been looking at, involved movies and gaming which play a large role in my life and analysing how I interact with this taught me more about what I love.

For my individual research project I wanted to place myself in a part of Japanese culture that I have always heard about but never ventured into, and that was professional wrestling in Japan, or Puroresu in Japanese. I wanted to analyse my own experiences watching and seeing the similarities and difference between different cultures wrestling styles and politics, the atmosphere, impact and sociology behind it. I understand that to truly analyse my experience with japanese professional wrestling I have to draw on my own experiences watching western professional wrestling and comparing and contrasting between the two. Aslop states in Home and Away: Self-Reflexive AutoEthnography (2002) states that:

“By immersing ourselves in another culture, we can expand ourselves and our identifications by exploring the foreign just like a child explores its new environment. Discovering the unknown environment and unknown parts of our selves makes us feel empowered, empowered by expanding our potential and reinventing ourselves. We can do all this because away from home we get labeled as an outsider”

Taking this idea of exploring a new environment, I wanted to explore the environment of Japanese professional wrestling as an outsider, because i’m not a wrestler, a fan of Japanese wrestling or familiar of their culture surrounding the entertainment which is produced and consumed. The best way that I could do this would be to watch a series of matches or whole shows and record my experiences watching the show. Taking into account the crowd, the wrestling the commentary and everything that I notice about the culture surrounding it. Because of the rich history that professional wrestling has in Japan as one of the main territories of the sport, I will be going into this as a complete foreigner as I know nothing about how it has started or where it is heading. All that i know is that they wrestle.

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NJPW. Source.

I will research how they use media to distribute the product and how they market, sell and build a culture around it. Analysing how I access the content and understanding how Japanese wrestling has impacted the rest of the world, and how the rest of the world has impacted Japanese wrestling.

The methodology that I will use to explore Japanese professional wrestling will be one where I want to be full immersed in the consumption of the product. I will be watching the events and matches on the internet, as it is the only place where I am able to access the matches and is where they distribute the content. I will watch the matches in the language that it is broadcasted in, with no subtitles as I feel that can retract from the experience, as the commentators are known to heavily emphasise and emote with their voice.

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Japanese wrestler Kobashi retiring. Source

As I cant be a participant in this culture and actually go and see a match live, I have to conduct a non- participant observation and envision myself in the arena. I need to analyse and investigate the notions of space and place and see how my interaction with the culture is addressed or not addressed, as that plays a major part in how I conduct my analysis. As Ellis stated that an “autoethnographers roll is to they study a culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders (cultural members) and outsiders (cultural strangers) better understand the culture. Ethnographers do this by becoming participant observers in the culture—that is, by taking field notes of cultural happenings as well as their part in and others’ engagement with these happening”(Ellis,2011)

Going on from this I went out and watched my first Japanese wrestling match! I didn’t know where to start so I looked up what was that best match to ever happen there and I found out that the majority of the best matches in the world have happened in the various promotions such as New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), All Japan Pro Wrestling and Dragons Gate which are the largest.

The match was between Karl Anderson and Shinsuke Nakamura in 2012 and it was quite a show. The first Thing that I noticed was that the crowd in the area was almost silent throughout the whole match, and was almost watching it like a tennis match. They seemed like they were analysing the entire match and watching it for the technicality more so than the entertainment side. Maybe they view wrestling and its entertainment factor based off the moves and the different techniques that aren’t used as much in American Wrestling.

The audience was also older than what i was used to seeing and they were all dressed pretty formally, which took me off guard because i saw no merchandise at all, which is a huge part of wrestling.

On the wrestling side I found out that in NJPW the count out rules are different as to end a match the wrestler(s) have to be out of the ring for 20 seconds as opposed to 10, which in practice is a much better rule as it doesn’t seem as awkward when they referee is counting so slowly.

Along with this was how brutal and hard hitting the wrestlers are. The moves seem like they are actually hurting and it looks like i’m watching a MMA fight more than a performance.

RIP me, it’s a Randomiser Nuzlocke

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For my individual research project I have decided to play a Pokémon game, but played in a way I have never attempted before. The popular franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri, who was inspired by one, the link cable technology that allowed multiplayer action on the old Gameboy handhelds, and two, his love of collecting insects as a child. While it took 6 years, Tajiri’s vision was achieved in the production of Pokémon Red and Green which were released in 1996.

Many Pokémon games followed the initial release of Red and Green, and has progressed into its 7th generation of Pokémon over the past 20 years. Today, we have over 721 obtainable Pokémon, a huge increase over the original 151 that were obtainable when I was a child.

My adventures with Pokémon began in 1998 when I was 5 years old. I had just started school, I had no friends, and I cried a lot. A LOT. After what seemed like forever, I finally made a friend.

One day, this friend came over to my house toting a Gameboy Advance with Pokémon Red and Blue. We took turns playing this fascinating game of collecting and battling exotic and strange monsters, and it was at this moment I was hooked, my life took a new direction, I was either going to be boring or become consumed by gaming culture. We all know what won out.

The first Pokémon game I ever owned was Pokémon Gold, one of the 2nd generation games that emerged during 1999. With the second generation of Pokémon expanding the universe, introducing new concepts and more opportunities for player interaction, I can safely say Pokémon found a place inside many players’ hearts, my own included, where it will be cherished forever.

For my project, I am going to be looking at Pokémon in an entirely new way, for myself anyway. I will be attempting a rom hack of Pokemon Red while adhering to the rules of a Randomiser Nuzlocke challenge. There are three things to unpack here, which are:

  1. Rom hacks: the process of modifying various elements of a video game to breathe new life into older games or to create a ‘new’ game using the old as a foundation.
  2. Randomisers: randomiser Pokémon play throughs can involve many things, but usually involve players travelling around a familiar Pokémon region with the wild encounterable Pokémon being completely randomised, so they have a chance of finding Pokémon they wouldn’t ordinarily find in that area.
  3. Nuzlockes: Nuzlocke challenges present a way of playing Pokémon, which involves the player following self-imposed rules that ultimately make the game more challenging and emotional. The basic rules include: any Pokémon that faints is considered dead and must be released or placed in PC storage permanently; the player may only catch the first Pokémon encountered in each area and none else, if this Pokémon flees or faints there is no second chances; while not definite, it is generally accepted that players also nickname their Pokémon for the sake of stronger emotional bonds.

To clarify, I will be playing a rom hack of the original Pokémon Red version which has had all 721 Pokémon injected into it. I will be playing a randomised version, which means I will randomly encounter Pokémon from a pick of 721. I will also be applying the above basic Nuzlocke rules to completely ramp up the difficulty and emotional impact of the game.

Before talking about how I will conduct my study, I will briefly go into what autoethnography is.

In terms of autoethnography, Ellis et al say that research and writing conducted in an autoethnographic way methodically examines personal experiences to better understand cultural experiences. The process of autoethnography, the doing, features elements of autobiography and ethnography. This essentially means that autoethnographic study involves the recording of a personal experience which is later analysed for cultural elements in order to help insiders and outsiders better understand the culture.

However, for this style of study, analysis is key. Researchers MUST use theoretical and methodological tools along with academia to produce a well-rounded study that is not just a story. The aim of autoethnographic study is to ultimately illustrate the characteristics of a culture to make it familiar for others.

For this study, I will be recording a series of videos that will:

  • Demonstrate how to access and play these games
  • Include footage of myself playing Pokémon Red to record my personal experience with the randomiser Nuzlocke challenge
  • Analyse the various elements of engaging with such a text and the cultural implications

For the next blog post I will include some evidence of my engagement with the text, my experience with the text, and some of the questions or thoughts I have about the text.

Till then.

The Tibetan Sand Mandala – Part One

Talkin' About Technology, yet not restricted to.

I was given the opportunity to choose an aspect of any Asian culture I would like to experience and then write and analyse about that experience from an autoethnographic viewpoint. Autoethnography being described by Ellis et al. “… is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience”. Through minimal research of different topics, I came to an immediate interest in looking at the Tibetian Sand Mandala. The sand mandala is a creation from Tibetan Buddhists that signifies a representation of the world in divine form.


There is a Buddhist Temple that I can get to, the Nan Tien Temple, though making and designing of the Sand Mandala is not just a common every day activity and also not publicized on social media so my personal experience is limited to watching videos – like the one above…

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Re-discovering the Japanese Traditional Craft of Origami: An Autoethnographic Experience

For my individual research project I have decided to examine and essentially learn how to create origami, which is a traditional Asian form of arts and crafts.  I will document my process through either wordpress or storyboard with the inclusion of images and videos.

As Ellis outlines, autoethnography involves the interpretation of a text which is often influenced by our own personal experiences and understanding. It is this understanding which then influences our interpretation of a text, which may often been obscured or bias depending on that understanding. Utilising this definition and understanding of autoethnography, I spent today looking through my old primary school books to locate any Japanese related materials and came across this gem:

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Learning origami in prep (2000)

At the young age of 6 in prep class in Victoria, I was introduced to Japan, more specifically the creative art of origami. I remember enjoying origami at school, especially creating the dog. Perhaps this is because it is one of the easiest figures to create.

Interestingly, when I asked mum where all my other Japanese books were she simply replied:

“you hated Japanese. When I asked you if you wanted me to keep your Japanese books you said no, chuck them out I won’t ever need them”.

What a stupid mistake that was… But this has puzzled me as I distinctly remember being fascinated by the traditional, thin, silky doubled sided blossom covered sheets that were so delicate and pretty. Ironically though I found my Term 4 report card from Prep, and low and behold I had received Highly Commendable’s (as that was the scoring system in Victoria at the time…weird hey?) for every subject except LOTE (which stands for Languages Other Than English – yes I did have to google this because I couldn’t figure it out myself!)

So perhaps I wasn’t very good at the subject as a whole and only liked creating dog figured origami! Regardless I still got this certificate for excellence in Japanese (go me):

japanese-certificate

Japanese certificate (2000)

Moving on from my childhood experience of Japanese and origami, the first hurdle that I had to overcome with this project was locating traditional Japanese origami sheets. There was an abundance of online stores that you could buy from, but by the time my order would arrive it would be the Friday that our second blog task is due! So I started to search for physical stores. As I had limited knowledge of Japanese or Asian style shops that might have origami supplies, I really struggled to find anything. I spent a lot of time on Google searching, as well as asking friends if they knew of any stores that sell origami. I eventually came across two stores that were located in the city. One called Daiso Japan and another called Kinokuniya. As I work in the city during some weekdays it wasn’t too much hassle getting between the two shops. Daiso Japan was a lot like the Dollar King or Reject Shop that you have at your local Westfield, but everything was in Japanese. I struggled massively to figure out what each aisle contained stock wise but eventually found some Japanese paper and an origami book. I found it odd that the staff were mainly Asian except for the person at the checkout who was a middle aged white male.

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Daiso Japan purchases

Then I went to Kinokuniya and I could not believe how large their Asian section was. I was literally in Asian book heaven! I was also really pleased and slightly surprised that most of the origami books had the traditional Japanese characters alongside English translation in a step by step setting. I immediately ignored the books that were only in Japanese, because I knew my limited understanding of their language would only hinder my experience of origami. $80 later spent on three more origami books and more origami paper and I was set.

shop-2

More origami! Thanks to Kinokuniya

When I got home I was so excited to try out my new potential hobby. I wanted to focus on the crane as I have a disjointed memory of watching the movie ‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes’ when I was younger in which the main character Sadako created 1000 cranes while she was in hospital suffering from leukaemia.

I took pictures of my 3 attempts at the traditional figure ‘the crane’:

I have to admit, my first reaction to creating origami was simple: frustration. I really didn’t think it would be that hard to fold and manoeuvre the paper into the shape that looked so perfect in my origami book. Regardless, on my third attempt I mastered it. However many thoughts were rushing through my mind:

  • Who created the concept of origami?
  • Why is the character ‘the crane’ so important?
  • What does ‘the crane’ signify?
  • Do people do this for a living?
  • Why do a lot of the sheets of origami paper have flowers on it?
  • What is the importance of the sparkly gold and silver details on some of the sheets?
  • Why are some of the sheets so thin?
  • How long would you need to practice origami in order to be able to do it quite well?
  • Why do some sheets of origami paper only have one side of colour and pattern while others seem to be doubled sided?

Looking at what I will be doing in my next blog, I will be using my personal understanding and experiences from when I was younger and the questions I have formed around origami to achieve a wider cultural, political and/or social understanding of the Japanese art.  As Jones (2013) outlines, I will research and challenge my own assumptions and perhaps uncover why I formed such perceptions in the first place.  I would not be surprised if time, which is often associated with autoenthography, will also have an impact on my assumptions and reflection.

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References

Ellis, C, Adam, T & Bochner, A 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, art. 1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>.

Jones, H, Adam, T & Ellis, C 2013, ‘Handbook of autoethnography’, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, pg. 10.

Japanese Game Shows

For my individual research project I wanted to look at

*・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・Japanese game shows・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*

My experience with Japanese game shows is limited to western interpretations like this. I want to know if they really are as crazy as everyone’s making them out to be. I want to take a look at the audiences, practices and industries around Japanese game shows and ~ as a female Australian ~ my interpretation.

Autoethnography seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. It’s a way of writing about another culture from the perspective of your own.

In writing autoethnography, we look at other cultures and how we make sense of them, using this to unpack our own cultural understanding and assumptions. Writing from personal experience and reflection enables us to look back and discover deep-seated cultural assumptions.

As a female Australian, my global consumption of East Asian local trends is going to be vastly different; which enables me to connect my personal understandings to wider cultural debates and patterns of experience.

Autoethnography will help me connect an East Asian cultural experience to my own personal experience of watching Australian game shows throughout my childhood, including Deal or No Deal and Family Feud. I can later compare my responses to East Asian game shows to my lasting impressions of those Australian shows watched throughout my childhood. I will then research Western interpretations of Japanese game shows, and look into the history and culture behind the Japanese game show industry itself.

To understand the Japanese television industry and game show culture I’ll obviously need to do some research. But from what I already know, Japanese game shows are very popular and are consumed all over the world.

So… I wanted to find out what it was all about, starting by watching a Japanese game show and recording my experiences. I’ve heard people mention some of the crazy things they do on these types of shows and I was intrigued. To begin my investigation, I googled ‘Japanese game show’ and watched the first result – a youtube video called ‘14 weirdest Japanese game shows that actually exist’. The video showed short clips from each of the 14 game shows and they all looked so weird that I struggled to pick which I should go and watch. I originally picked ‘Japanese human bowling’ but the only videos I could find were blurry, pixelated youtube videos and I had no idea what was going on. I then decided to have a look around the ‘Japanese game show’ subreddit community and I found a link to ‘HONMADEKKA!?TV Mote Shigusa in Summer’. It’s loosely translated and without doing research, I don’t know if that’s the correct name, and whether the video is a segment on the show or if that’s the whole show itself. Regardless- this is the show I decided to observe…

Initial observations:

  • The men all laugh at the woman’s age- so patronizing!
  • If this kind of comedy was used in Australian television shows the ‘victim’ would also laugh at themselves, I don’t think they would ever be ganged up on (for want of a better phrase)
  • Is it acceptable for older men to lust for younger girls?? There’s definitely an older man in the panel of men who wants the woman to flirt with him
  • So the whole premise of the show is to comedically demonstrate how a woman can use her behaviour to show her interest in a man
  • No focus on conversation? Just behaviour?
  • I’m still not entirely sure if there’s any winner in the game, but the aim is to act out the scenario with one of the men on the panel, and make him fall for them
  • The men get the scenario and pick the woman from a lottery
    • If this was an Australian show it would be heavily criticised
    • Women as objects ??
  • They’re teaching women how to make the men look at your chest in a way that he won’t notice he’s doing it
  • The women are taught to look out for the man’s interest- ‘how to hand him a sweat towel attractively’
  • The woman is demonstrating how to flirt with a man whilst on a train by showing her armpit. This is so weird!!
  • Apparently even the way your legs are placed and the slight tilt of your body makes it very obvious that you’re showing your affection
    • I swear in Australia we just get on the train and start a conversation. None of this carefully planned posture business
    • They focus on using behaviour to “seduce” rather than actually talking
  • All the men are obsessed with Kato; slim, pale skinned and innocent looking

“Make him fall for you”

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  • Japanese subtitles are so colourful, vibrant and in a variety of fonts!!
    • English subtitles are always black and white
    • I think that the crazy effects and colours do get a bit distracting
  • The hosts are so enthusiastc
    • But then I guess Western game show hosts are too
  • Their reactions are very over the top
  • Feel like I need some context to completely understand why the audience is laughing all the time. I get that it’s comedic but it’s not appealing to my sense of humour
  • As the title said, it is ‘loosely translated’ but still a good quality video
  • Is this culture unique to Japan?

Every time I prepare to view an East Asian text I am excited and ready to laugh, be entertained and learn more about the culture. Yet as I finish viewing each text (as with both Honmadekka and State of Play) I realise that I’ve been overtly critical despite my original intentions. As I develop my Autoethnographic response, I would like to read into my tendency to criticise these texts, and understand what the deeper significance of this may be.

 

References:

images; Google search: Deal or No Deal Australia

screenshots from Honmadekka