#lifestyle

Less Red M&M’s, More Empathy

Every time anyone suggests I give my account on a reading or academic terminology I’m usually pretty critical. Stuff like “this was almost as relevant as the argument for more red m&m’s“. “I’ve seen more interesting things come from the arse of a rabbit”, or my personal favourite; “The human centipede has produced less shit from their mouth”.

Despite my above and clearly grotesque criticisms, I felt that Ellis et al spoke to me in a way that was relevant to my life and my future learnings. Most of the theories that we learn in communications, especially heavy communications theory like “stacks” are so irrelevant to our future learnings and the only time we actually reference them is in essays or assignments that we desire to get very good marks in. Autoethnography occurred to me due to its reflective nature, something integral that requires empathy. Things that require the acknowledgement of another human being’s life and culture also involve the alteration of a specific state of mind; the state of mind being ego to altruism or cosmopolitanism. Ellis et al states that autoethnographers seek to “sensitize readers to issues of identity politics, to experiences shrouded in silence, and to forms of representation that deepen our capacity to empathize with people who are different from us”. You know when your teachers used to say to you in primary school “jump in someone else’s boots”? this is exactly what they’re talking about.

Because auto ethnography requires empathy, most researchers agree that the assumption of neutrality is not tenable (Ellis. C et al, 2011). Ethnography isn’t only utilised to empathise with others but rather inform outsiders of beliefs, practices and experiences; and that’s exactly what the modern dissemination of Confucianism does. Confucianism, often characterised “as a system of social and ethical philosophy rather than a religion.” (AsiaSociety.com) Is a system built on benevolence and transcendent ideology and is arguably the catalyst on which Buddhism was established.

184710-004-587aa143

 

I myself understand Confucianism to be a philosophy of life, embodied within every human being and not only those who practice Tibetan and Burmese traditions. The world is global and so is ideology; an intangible thought process or standpoint about yourself and the energy around you. These energies and thoughts can be processed anyway the human being likes. As an ethnographer practicing Confucian traditions such as benevolence doesn’t make me any different and I feel as though that’s not everyone’s perspective – after all the key is to acknowledge every human being as exactly that, a human and not “the other”. And just because Confucianism originated in China, doesn’t mean I have to be Chinese to understand it, especially in the modern world. If auto ethnographers are “participant observers” in a culture, spirituality is the perfect observational avenue for this.

Autoethnography: An Understanding.

After reading ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘ I have realised the importance of NOT delving into your own personal story in relation to experiencing a culture WITHOUT analysing that experience. It is important to experience, observe and to question.
Autoethnography is a qualitative research methodology that combines autobiography and ethnography. Such a combination ultimately allows the researcher to uncover a large amount of information about a culture.
Epiphanies are experiences gained from immersing oneself into a culture and are powerful reflective tools used by autoethnographers:

In primary school I developed a love and appreciation for Asian culture.
When I was in year three I befriended a Vietnamese girl.
I distinctly remember enjoying her company because she introduced me to a completely different world, one that I had previously been unaware of.
In my micro world bubble, she brought in macro world elements of Vietnamese culture, including food, music, stationary and other miscellaneous things.
This friendship allowed me to garner a more personal experience with the culture itself and taught me to be understanding and sensitive towards it and its values.

I feel very enthusiastic about conducting an autoethnographic study on Asian culture. As I have grown older, I have found myself increasingly interested in the way people from this culture express themselves, be it through their eclectic and quirky Harajuku street fashion, their photography, art and/or music.

This video provides insight into why ‘decora girls’ dress this way. The interviewer engages in participant observation to gain a deeper understanding of life as a decora girl and why it is such a popular phenomenon. It is a symbol of rebellion against the mainstream values of ‘order and discipline’ that are engrained within Japanese culture. However, the interviewer ultimately communicates that this fashion is an integral part of identity; a subculture signifier.

Similarly, from my own observations, this cutesy, kawaii fashion reminded me of that seen in famous Japanese anime, including Sailor Moon and Mew Mew Power.

Welcome_to_Disney,_Mew_Mew_Power!

With my current understanding of autoethnography, I would like to work with a group to analyse various elements of Asian culture including food, tv shows, movies, fashion etc. This analysis could be strengthened through interviews and participant observations. The participant observations would be a great way to immerse myself into the culture and to quickly expand my knowledge of it. I feel that these experiences would be effectively documented through video and uploaded to YouTube.

I am conscious of doing this in a manner that is objective, respectful and non exploitative. However, I realise that ‘…subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research…’ are natural parts of the autoethnographic process.

 

References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, viewed 11th August 2017, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>.

Week 4: Insta-famous Style Bloggers

This week I took a look at the ever-present ‘instafamous’ female, across Asia and the Asian diaspora. I questioned what these individuals post and why? I also noted the most exciting aspect of the blogging experience, the views and opinions of the audience! I also delved into the use of the hashtag as it is a means of connecting oneself to a brand or label.   

It is overly common to come across a fashion blogger these days. If you are to type ‘international fashion blogger’ into google, not only do you receive nearly 60 million hits, but the initial results consist of a series of ranking systems. There are a series of top 100 lists in which most include numerous blogs written people from all across Asia. One particular website, ‘Signature 99,’ lists the top 99 most influential blogs in the world. According to this site, a blog entitled ‘Hypebeast’ written by a girl from Hong Kong ranks #6 and is in the top .1% in the world.

Similarly, ‘Sensate’ website lists a series of well-known bloggers, including internationally successful Singaporean based online store, ‘Her Velvet Vase.’

Commonly these blogs include images of the blogger and their new purchases or daily outfits and they link these products to the according site or even sell the product itself. As I follow several bloggers and Instagram accounts myself, I constantly note the prevalence of luxury items. I also find it interesting that these items seem to be ‘hashtag-worthy’ as opposed to some that are not.

instafamous

This particular example is Kryz Uy from the Philippines. Uy is a luxury fashion blogger who posts images across the globe, on her travels and as seen in this image, she presents herself with brands such as Chanel. My interest in this is what and why these brands represent such value in the fashion world. Considering a bag like this one in the image retails for approximately $2000AUD or more, it represents a certain meaning for those who recognise it. Whether this meaning is based on your passion for being a part of the fashion world, or whether it means you have copious amounts of money is up to the receiver to interpret.

It is an interesting culture and in this particular representation, capitalistic notions are brought about. Fashion is most certainly interwoven throughout the arts and media world, though it can be seen as highly materialistic and superficial. My interest lies in understanding where this boundary is formed, as I personally battle with its two-sidedness throughout my career and personal life. 

 BIBLIOGRAPHY

MSAIDYL March 2013, “Top 40 Asian Bloggers” on Art Becomes You at http://artbecomesyou.com/2013/03/13/top-40-asian-style-bloggers/ visited on 24th August 2014

Ousley YM, 2014, “The Top Global Style Blogs: Spring 2014” on Signature 9 at http://www.signature9.com/style-99 visited on 24th August 2014

August 2014, “Personalised just for me” in Camille Tries to Blog at http://itscamilleco.com/2014/08/personalized-just/ visited on 24th August 2014