Narrative Autoethnography

Year: 2015

Author: Legge, Mareen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Narrative inquiry provides a way to access participants lived experience in the process of storying and restorying. The structuring of narratives may be effected by epiphanies or turning point moments in the experience of the participants. My experience has been to use narrative autoethnography where my personal experience and particular turning point moments were the focus of my research. As an autoethnographic researcher I have investigated and exemplified my work as a Pākehā (Māori for European) teacher educator working to develop bicultural identity with undergraduate physical education teacher education (PETE) students in the context of the indigenous Māori culture in Aotearoa New Zealand. In autoethnography, the researcher has insider status. They are the informant and the writer. This problematizes the insider-outsider dichotomy. Autoethnography comes from the written word, narrative inquiry does too, but the words come from interviewing - verbal communication and visual observation. The autoethnographer uses writing as their method of inquiry. Often written in the first person, autoethnographic narratives are centred upon the meaning of the research to the researcher/participant. The researcher writes to create a story that connects what is happening ‘inside’ for them, to the ‘outside’ surrounding culture. Fiction, poems, story, plays, performance, and other experimental texts may be used to link cultural and social meanings of the author’s personal experience to larger cultural contexts. I chose autoethnography as a mode of inquiry because stories seemed to be the best way I could communicate my experience as a researcher and writer to the reader. My stories about my experience as a Pākehā making connections to Māori culture, ‘felt like they were burning holes in my head.’ Autoethnography is used to create new knowledge from personal experience. The autoethnographic process of writing can be evocative, raises self-consciousness and promotes reflexivity. When an author conveys their feelings, actions, and reactions, autoethnography validates emotional experience as part of the knowledge itself and the author’s data as being as important as others. Autoethnography combines research, writing, story, and method to connect the personal to the social, historical, cultural and political. This paper explores my experience of narrativising the process of doing autoethnography.