Humanities ORGS Workshop – Wednesday 1 Oct 2014 What do Vulnerability and Empathy have to do with Research? Presented by: Dr Joy Denise Scott & Dr Marilyn Metta
Overview • Brief overview of Autoethnography as a research form, process and practice; • Unpacking autoethnography: Why & how & the dangers and pitfalls • Joy & Marilyn to share some stories • Short break • Writing exercise • What do vulnerability and empathy have to do with research? • Share your own writings in small groups • Questions and Discussion
Autoethnography • performative; • embodied; • subversive; • highly contested;
Autoethnography • Is a methodology, a form of knowledge-making; a research practice and a form • The personal is political • The personal is scholarly
Why Autoethnography? • Human experience is “chaotic and messy requiring a pluralism of discursive and interpretive methods” (Spry, 2001, p.727) • All research involving people is messy
The dangers and pitfalls • “navel gazing”?“solipsism”? “self-indulgence”?
Writing exercise Writing from the Body
Writing self “includes the researcher’s vulnerable self, emotions, body and spirit and produces evocative stories that create the effect of reality…” (Reed-Danahay, 1997)
Vulnerability, Empathy & Integrity • Why have you chosen the form/method?
What examiners have to say about autoethnography • “candidate was able to convey “the complexity of lived experience” through poetry, memoir and the critically reflexive voice” • “Some of the strengths of the study… letting the text speak for itself and evoking the depth of focused human experience” • “The life writing and ethnographic nature of this thesis demonstrates the usefulness of such approaches in helping us to understand the complexity of human relationships and behaviour across cultures” • “We learn afresh about the importance of not only looking out at the other through our ethnographic journey but looking back inside ourselves”
What examiners have to say about autoethnography • “We are embodied creatures as much as we are discursive constructions—a body is not passive and it speaks (or silences itself) in ways we often cannot know or tell…. this research will also allow other readers… to see multiple ways of looking at their experience, ways that go beyond the psychological and intellectual” • “the autobiographical writing was persuasive, indeed, compelling, capturing the intricate emotional archaeology of self-manufacture, with all its vicissitudes, contradictions and somatic dimensions… Literary genres can also count as research: they are modes of persuasion and can change the temperature that might surround a social question and shift its reception accordingly.”
What examiners have to say about autoethnography • “The ways and the contexts within which one knows and learns have become vital to our work in the academy. This thesis helps take this notion a step further by problematizing the links between life and profession, using the personal to interrogate theory. Authorenacts a position from which ‘‘the personal is the theoretical,’’ inviting us to re-examine the ways in which we know and articulate women’s lives on multiple levels.” • “The narratives are fascinating. The author has given us a window into several different worlds: small city Malaysia, cosmopolitan Singapore, urban, multi-ethnic Western Australia. Then there is the “lost child” and the abused child, the young survivor, the immigrant, the victim and ultimate survivor of domestic violence, the young mother, the emerging teacher and therapist… what richness!... It is a courageous undertaking to look at this material, and to lay it out for an audience, even more courageous. People work lifetimes on these tasks…”
Weaving vulnerability & empathy into writing self and other • Re-engage with your own piece of writing that you brought along or the embodied piece you’ve just written • Why have you chosen to write in these ways? • In small groups, share your writing • Reflect on how you might incorporate vulnerability and empathy in your own research and writing • How do vulnerability and empathy influence your own writing/research
Reading list • Anzaldúa, Gloria. (1999). Borderlands = La Fronera. San francisco: Aunt Lute Books • Behar, Ruth. (1996). The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology that Breaks your Heart. Boston: Beacon Press. • Behar, Ruth. (2003). Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza's story. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. • Diversi, Marcello, and Claudio Moreira. (2009). Betweener Talk: Decolonizing Knowledge Production, Pedagogy & Praxis. Walnut Creek, CAL: Left Coast Press • Fine, Michelle. (1994). Working the hyphens: Reinventing Self and Other in qualitative research. In Handbook of qualitative research, ed. N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, 70-82. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. • Freeman, J. (2011). Solipsism, self-indulgence and circular arguments: Why autoethnography promises much more than it delivers. Journal of Arts & Communities, 3(3), 213-227. Retrieved from doi:10.1386/jaac.3.3.213_1 • Hayano, D. M. (1979). Auto-ethnography: Paradigms, problems and prospects. Human Organization 38 (1): 99-104. • Holman Jones, S., Adams, T. E., & Ellis, C. (Eds.). (2013). Handbook of Autoethnography. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press. • Holman Jones, S. (2005). Autoethnography: Making the personal political. In Handbook of qualitative research, 3rd ed., ed. N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln, 763-791:Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications • Metta, M. (2013). Putting the Body on the Line: Embodied Writing and Recovery through Domestic Violence. In S. Holman Jones, T. E. Adams & C. Ellis (Eds.), Handbook of Autoethnography (pp. 486-509). Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press. • Metta, M. (2010). Writing Against, Alongside and Beyond Memory: Lifewriting as Reflexive, Poststructuralist Feminist Research Practice. Bern: Peter Lang. • Muncey, T. (Ed.). (2010). Creating Autoethnographies. London: Sage Publications. • Reed-Danahay, D. E. (1997). Introduction. In Auto/ethnography: Rewriting the self and the social, ed. D. E. Reed-Danahay, 11-17. Oxford: Berg. • Richardson, Laurel. (2000). Writing: A method of inquiry. In Handbook of qualitative research. 2 ed., ed. N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln, 923-958. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. • Scott, Joy D. (2013). Memoir as a form of auto-ethnographic research for exploring the practice of transnational higher education in China. Higher Education Research & Development, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2013.863844 • Spry, T. (2011). Body, paper, stage: Writing and performing autoethnography. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press. • Spry, T. (2001). Performing autoethnography: An embodied methodological praxis. Qualitative Inquiry, 7(6), 706-732. • Trinh, T. M.-h. (1989). Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.