autoethnographic

Throw everything you know about research to the wind! Autoethnography is here.

We have been blogging our entire degree’s.

Reflective, observant, and critical. These are the tenets of good blogging practice.

Heavily lacing our work with respective anecdotes, embedded personal tweets, and ~poignant~ gifs, blogging has allowed us to imbed ourselves into the topics in which we are discussing. Although celebrated among the blogosphere, with the visible benefits of this authorial point of view shining through, auto-ethnographical approaches to study are heavily regarded as epistemologically damaging to research.

Although not shocking, it is alarming that the benefits of self-reflexivity is ignored among the general population of the research world.

Auto-ethnography, as defined by Ellis, is the process of acknowledging and accommodating for the subjectivity, emotionality, and personal influence of the researcher within research. This in turn provides varying insights into the work that could not have been investigated otherwise.

This title, although a little pompous and verbose, is quite revealing with regard to the function of this form of methodology. The untraditional practice ‘seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)’. Although canonical and autoethnographical research methods are highly varied in their manifestation, they are both governed by a large range of conventions which influence their understanding and the way in which they were constructed. There are distinct parallels to be drawn between both modes of research, autoethnography just decides to acknowledge this bias.

But what is the incentive for classical researchers to transition, or even consider this line of methodology?

The intimate nature of the research may pose unique insights into issues regarding culture possibly overlooked, or out of reach to traditional researchers. Issues regarding identity, mental health, society. These are all very personal points of studying within sociology, one in which researchers have varying depths of interaction with. This introspection, helping the researcher make sense of his or her own experiences in relation to the point of study, is as a result of what Ellis defines as epiphanies.

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Image source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjfHnCjy3Pc

Just like the intense moment Homer Simpson experienced in The Simpsons movie, autoethnographers voluntarily undergo a recurring period of critical self-reflection, with regard to the way in which they have interacted with their subject. Although sounding like what happens to everyone after sending a ‘risky text’, this methodology affords numerous benefits to the research and audience. It is apt in remaining transparent, revealing the binary established between researcher and researched, as well as the self and the other. Classical research studies assumes this dichotomy, but autoethnography aims to bridge this gap. Autoethnography further explores interaction, and insertion of the researcher as a means to reveal narrative nuances present within the subject being studied, acknowledging the present biases affecting the way both things and research operate.

As someone who has had limited, or very superficial interactions with Asian culture, it will be interesting to explore this line of research.

References:

Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research12(1), Art. 10, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1101108.

Méndez, Mariza. (2013). Autoethnography as a research method: Advantages, limitations and criticisms. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal15(2), 279-287. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0123-46412013000200010&lng=en&tlng=en.

Unintentional authoethnograpic studies

After learning about what autoethnography is in this subject, something clicked in my head. I’ve already learnt about autoethnographic studies! I studied society and culture in year 11 and 12, and came across the concept when it came to learning about India. For those of you who don’t know what autoethnography is, this is for you:

“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., 2010).

The great thing about this research is that is not a boring statistical analysis or searching through piles of information for any kind of data. This research creates a personal connection between the researcher and the case, and allows the researcher to immerse themselves into the context of what they are studying. In my opinion, this is way more informative and interesting than a standard observation. This excites me because i have visited countries like Thailand before, but at the end of the year I’ll be visiting Vietnam. I am so intrigued with different asian cultures, and get really involved in seeing what their day to day lives consist of, and how they are different to me.

While reading through the piece, I realised that I have mentally doing enthographic studies of different people I have encountered in my life. I went to school and befriended a few Vietnamese girls, and learnt a lot about their culture and traditions which was interesting for a girl with a european background. I visited their houses and saw what they made for dinner which was always something interesting in comparison to the pasta dish I would inevitably have. On the bus home from school, my friend Maria would always have a different Vietnamese candy for us all to try, and ultimately luring me in more! I have also experienced Thailand, and the people there and how they live their lives. Being a country that isn’t filled with wealth and luxury, it was amazing to see their attitudes towards life, despite the lack of basic things that I would struggle without. Both of these experiences showed me the different traditions, customs and made me want to indulge and find out more. Although at the time I didn’t realise, but now I understand that I was conducting small ethnographic studies.

Overall, I am really excited to explore asian cultures in my digital artifact and immerse myself into the culture but can’t decide which culture I’d like to look into first! Hopefully I will be able to decide within the next week.

You, Me and Autoethnography.

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2005. Popcorn litters the floor of a Batman Begins session. The murmuring of patrons gradually fades out into the lobby.

“Ready to go?”, dad shouts over Hans Zimmer’s thundering score.

I wasn’t. For the first time ever it had clicked in my head that cinema wasn’t just a form of entertainment, it was it’s own world. People dedicated their lives to these visions. It felt like a language I always knew existed but finally understood.

These “epiphanies” – described as “remembered moments perceived to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life” (Bochner & Ellis 1992), are essential to auto-ethnographic research. In the simplest terms when these autobiographical details of one’s life are compared to ethnographical information of a similar or opposing cultural context, the resulting research “illustrate facets of cultural experience” by familiarising both “insiders and outsiders” (Ellis et all 2011) with cultural characteristics. Overall providing an account of social science borne out of the researcher’s results.

For me, film is inextricably connected to auto-ethnographic methodology. Filmmakers re-contextualise their personal and cultural contexts, to provide the audience with a intimate glimpse at their personal beliefs and values through the story and characters. Through doing this they are able to transcend cultural boundaries, while still presenting a uniquely personal product.

A prime example of this is Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film Lost in Translation.

Though the film explores the alienation and subsequent familiarisation of Japanese society through the central characters of Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), the film is ultimately a manifestation of Coppola’s own personal feelings of being lost during her twenties. In technical terms, the ethnographer injecting autobiographical information into the research to give it a personal resonance.

Autobiography: Bob is confronted with an image of himself on a billboard, surrounded by the alien streets of Tokyo.  Represents Coppola’s western context in eastern. Metaphorically representing the potential for one context to meet another, or potential for an individual to become a part of a culture.

Ethnography: Charlotte physically explores “traditional” Japan. Reference to Coppola’s attempts to connect with the culture, ultimately existing as a passive participant who quite literally observes it from afar. Represents the “process” of researchers during their investigations.

Auto-ethnography (Product): Bob and Charlotte, though never quite connecting with Tokyo, ultimately appreciate the culture that surrounds them and ultimately their place within it. Coppola coming to peace with being the outsider.

 

I believe this demonstrates auto-ethnography methodology in it’s purest and most literal form; as “both process and product” (Ellis et al 2011), but largely one of observation. Auto-ethnography is engaging with one’s own familiarities and then contrasting and comparing it to the unfamiliar to give your initial contextual framework greater definition, while having grown appreciation for the “other”.

DIGC330 has already provided this shift for me, through the screenings of Gojira (1954) and Akira (1988). While previously I felt my knowledge of film was comprehensive, these films have totally shattered my understanding of the medium. They have demonstrated that there is more to the genre then Hollywood, and by extension more than the culturally-exclusive framework I had been approaching film through.

I feel like that nine-year-old kid all over again, discovering film for the first time, my entire language being challenged. Yet this is the ideal birthing ground for auto-ethnographic research.

References:

  1. Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1, viewed 10th August 2017, http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095
  2. Lost in Translation 2003, motion picture, Focus Features, directed by Sofia Coppola.

 

Autoethnography and My Diary.

I use my diary as often as I possibly can to jot down moments in time that have made a major impact on me in some shape or form, known as epiphanies (Ellis et al, 2011). From the birth of my nephew to a tough day at work, I describe and reflect on interactions with others and the world around me.

I often think of my diary as a time capsule that in which, I can read in the future and understand what once was for myself. It will enable others to explore the way in which I used language to show emotion and thoughts in the written form.

My epiphanies are uniques to myself and you may have some of your own. Ellis et al makes point that people view the world around them differently and I couldn’t agree more.  Ellis states that autoethnography was developed due to scientist wanting focus on developing research based in personal experience, stating “research would sensitise readers to the issues of identity politics, to experiences shrouded in silence and to representation that deepen our capacity to empathise with people who are differently from us” (2011).

In the future, someone or myself could look back at my diary or any diary in general, at the experiences written about to influence the way in which they understand different views of the world then their own.

Checkout this audio piece for a little more of my understanding.

 

Lauren.

 

REFERENCE

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

The Message Behind Godzilla

 

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My personal context did have a very direct impact on my interpretation of the original Godzilla film.

Other than the obvious impacts, in that the film was created before I was born and thus the cinematography is dramatically different to what I’m used to. There were a few things that stood out to me that had more to do with information and language.

While I do come from a very Australian background, I have spent a very long time studying and enjoying Asian cultures and its entertainment industry (Japanese culture in particular). So there were a few things in this film that stood out for me and may have been viewed differently.

Firstly, the use of more Kanji characters in signage was important. In more modern films, and in Japan itself- most signs are written in Hiragana and Katakana- since it’s easier for the public to read and understand. It really highlighted the time-period in which this movie was created. A lot of the dialogue was also in stilted and in older format- more formal language than the Japanese you would hear in Anime’s or Japanese drama.

Another thing that impacted my interpretation of the film was my extensive study of the Hiroshima bombing that I did as my major work for my HSC. I’ve always viewed Godzilla as a warning from the Japanese people against nuclear warfare and a visual representation of the devastation that was caused to their country.

The visualization of Godzilla and the fact that he’s depicted as an unapologetic monster could very well show the view of the Japanese people towards America. Since the monster never apologized or rectified his mistakes- and to be honest, neither did America. I think that the evolution of Godzilla through constant remakes will help to enforce the ideal of a nuclear free environment (or at least a safer nuclear practice). But that could just be wishful thinking.

The films itself was not something I would usually watch, I don’t enjoy action films. However, it did make me want to look more into the progression of nuclear power and if there’s any counter measures that have been triggered by this film and the remakes after it.

 

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.

 

Once Bit(coined), No longer cryptocurrency shy

Hi everyone,

My final project about Bitcoin was created on Shorthand Social and can be accessed via the link below:

https://social.shorthand.com/GivernyW/32S3Mp7iK6/once-bitcoined-no-longer-cryptocurrency-shyhttps://social.shorthand.com/GivernyW/32S3Mp7iK6/once-bitcoined-no-longer-cryptocurrency-shy

I hope you find it interesting and insightful!

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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Auto-Ethnographic Experience… GODZILLA

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Let me start off by saying I absolutely love Godzilla. I think he is such a misunderstood fellow and a total bad ass to boot. How can something so ginormous and scary who possesses a destructive power of unprecedented proportion also be so gosh darn adorable?

So, putting my love of the Lizard King into perspective, you can Imagine my reaction when I entered my first Digital Asia class (on my first day back at uni), only to find that we would be spending the entire two hour class watching the original 1954 Japanese classic.. Godzilla (or Gojira in Japanese). Immediately I began to feel like I was back in high school. You know those days where the teacher is sick and the whole class would cheer as an over-sized TV on a stand is wheeled into the room. Only this time we were watching something cool.

Being unable to read Japanese I had no choice but to look at the writing in the opening credits purely from an aesthetic perspective. I couldn’t help but think to myself that Japanese writing looks so much better than English writing and then I wondered if someone was out there thinking the same thing in reverse. By the time I was done with that strange strain of thought it was time for the film to begin.

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The movie has a quite a slow beginning so as I was watching I found myself just listening to words instead of reading the subtitles. While doing this the sound of familiar words kept transporting me into flashbacks of some of my favorite animes. Every time I heard someone say san at the end of a name I would in-vision an memory of The Straw Hat Crew calling out LUFFY-SAN! in respect and admiration to their Captain.

This was also happening during the dramatic moments of the film. I have noticed that in Japanese cinema the tear jerking moments always have some kind underlying moral lesson. For example when (Spoiler Alert) Daisuke dies at the end, that wasn’t just for evoking tears, the movie was making an important message about the abuse of scientific innovation. He had to sacrifice himself to ensure all traces of his weapon would die along with him. Through out the film moments like this kept reminding me of the many lessons I have accumulated from watching Asian cinema.

The moment Godzilla appeared the graphics almost had me in hysterics. For the time they were amazing but watching them now really changes the mood of the film. I can definitely see why the film has become such a cult classic. It is funny to think that this was my first time actually watching the film when it is certainly not my first time experiencing it in some form or another. Remakes, posters, street art, music videos, cartoon references, figurines… Godzilla has saturated the environment I have grown up in. This has made me feel as though I knew the movie well, despite never having seen it.