Autoethnography

Autoethnography is an area that has come up in conversation around my research but I haven’t really looked into it until now. I knew that it would relate to my work but I didn’t know how it differed to autobiography which I know I look at, especially in relation to my solo.

My current understanding, I say current as I haven’t yet looked into the area in depth, is that autoethnography is a type of autobiography but also takes in to account of surrounding nuances in culture and research. It is a type of story telling, looking at lived experiences and explores experiences relationaly to the surrounding influences.

Autoethnography has 4 distinctive attributes that makes it different to autobiography [Holman Jones, S. L., Adams, T. E., & Ellis, C. 2015].

1) Commentating on culture or cultural practices
Looking at, as I said above, the surrounding cultural practices of an experience or experiences. This could include move voices, comparing experiences in similar or different cultures.

2) Contributing to existing research
Using existing research within the text to show different sides to the argument or experience. This doesn’t have to be through sited text.

3) Vulnerability
Through telling stories that leaves the author in a vulnerable position they are able to start conversation and relate.

4) Relationship with the audience
Autoethnography is written to elicit a response or reaction from the audience. Calling the view to action – “positioned as active participants expected to act in and on the unfolding story” [Holman Jones, S. L., Adams, T. E., & Ellis, C. 2015 (p25)].

These all makes it clear how autoethnography is different to biography. My question now is how I translate some of these in to dance and movement contact. It is clear how when looking at autoethnography as written text but will take a bit more research on my part to understand how other practitioners have related this in their own work.

I have looked at a number of these aspects individually in my past work which tells me my practice is leaning towards autoethnography. I looked at vulnerability in my solo ‘Oprimido’ and cultural nuances in my upcoming project on first encounters. The one I am stuck with is how to clearly position my research in relation to others or how to present other research within my work.

One that really excites me and I want to explore in my own practice is the relationship with the audience. There is something there about the interaction between audience and performer. Can the audience influence the performance? how?

– Holman Jones, S. L., Adams, T. E., & Ellis, C. (2015). Handbook of autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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