This week in Digital Asia we got familiar with the research practice of autoethnography, which is an approach to research which looks for a way to use and examine personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. In the seminar we screened and live-tweeted the anime Akira (1988), and used this as an example to put this research practice into place.
A little background on Akira…it is a Japanese science fiction film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and is set in a dystopian future (2019 which right now for us is only next year). [Wikipedia]. The instruction was to ‘put yourself in an experience of a culture that you are not familiar with’, this was by watching an anime movie called Akira, a culture that is different from my own. Also by live-tweeting, this also brings a unique experience of watching something and as a collective you can see and relate to other people’s reactions towards the film which I found super interesting as I observed.
Afterwards I went through the autoethnographic process:
- Determine your field site
My field site was the seminar classroom in which we were screening the film. It was also online on Twitter as we were all live-tweeting throughout.
2. Gather data
As I was watching the film I was trying to interpret what was going on but I was also reading how others were interpreting it. These are some screenshots of some people’s tweets.
Some people drew comparisons to the first film we watched of Gojira, with similar concepts within the stories. Others were comparing experiences of what we saw in the film to our own, an example being the many references to Toy Story and the rudeness of some of the male characters. There were also questions of authenticity in the anime experience watching it with American accents.
4. Interrogate your assumptions
I found that a lot of people watching this anime were confused, so I wasn’t alone in my thought process. The movie went for a full 2 hours so it was a long time to keep attentive while also trying to grasp what was happening which made it a little hard to keep up.
5. Engage in further research and analysis
The reading this week ‘Ellis et al’ (2011), gave a lot more insight into autoethnography. There was one part that read “the need to resist colonialist, research impulses of authoritatively entering a culture, exploiting cultural members and then recklessly leaving to write about the culture for professional gain, while disregarding relational ties to cultural members”.
I interpreted this as rather than looking at a culture from an outside perspective or exploiting cultural members, autoethnography comes into it by relating to another culture and looking at ourselves to then observe others. It strengthens our capacity to empathise with people who are different to us.
6. Communicate your findings
I did this through this blog post.