Auto-ethnography is a type of ethnography that is written by a member of the society under study. In other words, it is an account of personal experience that is used to explore cultural phenomena.
Auto-ethnography can be used to provide an insider’s perspective on a culture, and it can also be used to critique anthropological methods and theory. Additionally, auto-ethnography can be used to raise awareness about the experiences of marginalized groups.
Some examples of auto-ethnography include: “Black Skin, White Masks” by Frantz Fanon, a black psychiatrist from the French West Indies who critiques the way that white society sees black people, and “The ‘illegal’ traveller: an auto-ethnography of borders” by Shahram Khosravi.
Auto-Ethnographies are particularly useful when studying cultures that are difficult to access, or when studying cultures that have been misrepresented in the past. Additionally, auto-ethnography can be used to challenge dominant narratives about a culture.
Critiques of auto-ethnography argue that it is subjective and therefore not objective. Additionally, some anthropologists argue that auto-ethnography should not be used to make generalizations about a culture because it is only one person’s experience. Others argue that auto-ethnography can be useful for making generalizations about a culture, as long as the auto-ethnographer is clear about the limitations of their perspective.
Ethnography – a type of research that involves participant observation, active interaction with members of a society, and the documentation of cultural practices.
Glossary Terms starting with A
- Acculturation – a process of cultural change and adaptation
- Action Theory – How Humans Interact with their Environment
- Adaptive Strategy – How a Community Survives in its Environment
- Alliance Theory – Understanding the Formation and Maintenance of Social Ties between Groups
- Amoral Familism – Prioritising the Family’s Interest over that of the Community
- Animism – The Belief that all Things have a Spirit
- Anomie – A State of Social Chaos or Normlessness
- Anthropology of the Body – The Study of the Human Body
- Anthropology of the City – The Study of Urban Spaces and Culture
- Apartheid – Racial Segregation based on Institutionalised Racism
- Archaic – The Earliest Stages of Human Development
- Asiatic Mode of Production – How Marx described self-sufficient villages found in Asia
- Assimilation – How Minority Groups become part of the Dominant Culture
- Asymmetric / Symmetric Alliance – A Marriage Alliance Theory
- Auto-Ethnography – Using Personal Experience to Explore Cultural Phenomena
- Avunculate – Special Kinship Bond between a Maternal Uncle and his Nephews
- Avunculocal – system of residence where a married couple settle with or near the maternal uncle
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