Writing the (creative) self into research: The process and product of autoethnography

mediatechnology

On Friday June 1st 2018 I gave a talk to the Media Technology master’s students at Leiden University about two topics near and dear to my heart: creativity and autoethnography. The message I ended with was: If you can’t use autoethnography to complete a research product, you can still use it to enrich your research process. Abstract below:

Doing academic research in a creative way is key to uncovering new insights. As a creative researcher, are you really thinking outside the box? For example, have you ever imagined reflecting on and writing about your personal experience in order to better understand your research topic? In this talk I will discuss autoethnography, an approach that combines elements of autobiography and ethnography. We will discuss how autoethnography lets you embrace subjectivity, and in the process, challenges traditional notions of what academic research is.
Advertisements

How can we get people to change their minds about Zwarte Piet?

The Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis just published my article (written with Renata Rocha) called “‘No more blackface!’ How can we get people to change their minds about Zwarte Piet?” The full article freely available online, and the abstract is below.

0d022ad802517f09021cc6283ee5019d.png

When Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands in December, he is accompanied by Zwarte Pieten made up in blackface, with afro wigs and bright red lips. Zwarte Piet, translated as “Black Pete,” has created growing controversy as a hurtful, racist caricature. Increasing voices demand change, but most of the population is opposed to altering the tradition. One way forward is to examine attitude change, and gain insight into how we can facilitate this process. This paper introduces the topic and reviews recent academic work on the controversy. Then, using autoethnographic vignettes (Humphreys, 2005), we explore our experiences with the tradition, weaving our stories together in relation to personal history, awareness, and attitude change. We provide an international perspective, as Renata is a Dutch/Cape Verdean woman born and raised in the Netherlands, and Janelle is a white woman, born and raised in Minnesota, who has lived in the Netherlands for 16 years. This approach allowed us to write together from an insider/outsider perspective (Zempi & Awan, 2017). Our stories depict attitude change from distinctive starting points, and by sharing them we hope to shed light on how attitude change can occur in relation to Zwarte Piet and broader social injustice issues.