A Bollywood Affair: Digital Asia Autoethnography


“Practicing ethnography means shifting one’s notion of center and periphery and coping with the complexity of multiple centers with multiple peripheries.”

Alsop , 2002 p. 1

Aslop attains that “self-reflexivity can take various forms and shapes such as asking ourselves about our frame of mind, about our power position in the network of cultures, about the ways in which we produce knowledge, and about our notion of center and periphery” (2002, p. 7). So, to better understand a culture, I must learn the experiences of its insiders and experience it myself, as an outsider (Ellis, 2011).

When I was considering a topic to focus on, I wanted to do something I am passionate about and feel that I have sufficient cultural knowledge of in my own context. This way, I can accurately compare my cultural experiences and generate epiphanies about the many unknowns I will encounter.

My Cultural Framework

I am a digital native in an age of globalisation. So, while I predominately consume ‘Westernised‘ media, it is almost impossible for me to not encounter film industries from around the world. This is due in part to the popularisation of on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, which offer a number of products from global film industries. Many of which I admit I have not exposed myself to, fearing that the text may be too culturally remote for me to understand.

However, after participating in screenings of Asian texts, I realised that this is simply not the case, and that foreign film industries often come to influence the ‘Western’ media that I consume.

Years ago, I stumbled upon a Bollywood film, Om Shanti Om and I loved it because:

  • It is a hilarious “spoof” of the Bollywood and Hollywood film industries
  • The musical numbers are insane
  • It’s theatrical and melodramatic

But I’ve never seen a Bollywood film since. And, that’s about to change.

Asian Cinema: Bollywood and Lollywood

Here’s what I already know:

After considering this, I spoke with a close friend, who is Pakistani (as we sometimes discuss Bollywood films). I asked her opinion on films to watch, and what was interesting to me was that she highlighted the transition of Bollywood cinema from over-the-top musicals such as Om Shanti Om to “social awareness” style dramas more alike to Western Hollywood Dramas. This is one key angle I will focus on. She also mentioned Lollywood – the Pakistani film industry. So, I will be incorporating a few episodes of these TV Dramas into my research.

My auto ethnographic research will follow this methodology:

Click to Watch

And here’s the list of texts I am going to tackle – I am completely open to suggestions, so drop comment below!


Alsop, Christiane K. (2002) Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research 3:3.http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/Positionality/auto-eth.pdf

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Featured image source.

4 Replies to “A Bollywood Affair: Digital Asia Autoethnography”

  1. Hey Jasmyn!

    Firstly, I think you have really shown that you understand the autoethnographical research method. The inclusion of your own cultural background allows me as the reader to understand and detect bias, an aspect of autoethnographic communication Ellis et al (2011) really emphasises. In conjunction with this, I really liked the way you have already started to experience epiphanies, evident when you discuss how after speaking to your friend you discovered Bollywood is far more diverse than you first thought. Your initial encounter with Bollywood culture has clearly been minimal but I think this is a perfect opportunity to engage with and experience a phenomenon that is gaining popularity on a global scale. On another note, I think the inclusion of vlogs was a great idea, the blog in its entirety was accessible and I believe your DA has the opportunity to really speak to a wide, diverse audience.

    My D/A is actually on Hindu religious practices so I am intrigued about how your experience with film within a predominantly Hindu country will relate to my autoethnographical experience.

    These two articles are quite interesting! The first article in fact talks about how Hindu men dominate the Bollywood industry and the second talks about how Bollywood has the ability to shape the future of globalisation, worth a read!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Jasmyn, nice approach to the Bollywood scene. After reading your post, I can see how you have encountered your own autoethnographical approach and I can see that you understand the ethnographic research method. Your blog is well linked, well researched and makes good use of visual media with your thoughts being articulated. You mentioned how you were starting to experience epiphanies which is an aspect of autoethnogrpahic writing (Ellis et al.).
    Although you do not have much experience with encountering the Bollywood scene, you mentioned that you may also look at ‘Lollywood’ – I found an article here than you can look at that mentions that the decline of Pakistani cinema was far more dramatic than that of Bollywood (you can use this to talk about Bollywood vs. Lollywood if you would like). https://theculturetrip.com/asia/pakistan/articles/why-pakistans-lollywood-is-better-than-indias-bollywood/
    By engaging with Bollywood, you are immersing yourself into another culture (Ellis et al.) reading mentions this aswell; you will gain a deeper understanding of the Bollywood scene and hopefully your digital artefact can catch the eye of many people.
    Lastly, here’s a YouTube clip that is a TED Talk that focuses on the globalisation of Bollywood, it is worth a watch!

    I look forward to your next post and good luck with your DA!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s