Recently, Josh, Allanah and I conducted an autoethnographic study about Buddhism. Honestly, we chose to do so, because there was a Buddhist temple nearby to our place of study, and because all of us had little to no prior experience with Buddhism. Thus, this autoethnographic journey would be one of discovery, and unexpected epiphanies.
So, we knew we wanted to study Buddhism, but the question was: how?
First, we had to identify our cultural frames and how this may affect the research process.
As a group, we brought with us vastly different individual cultural frames (below). But one this was for sure: it was important to acknowledge that our exposure to the Buddhist faith was approached from a research perspective, so admittedly the lens through which we viewed our experiences may not have been as authentic as those of a cultural insider.
Then, we had to consider how to conduct the research itself.
Ellis et al. (2011) sets out a framework for conducting autoethnographic research. Key elements include: participant observation, epiphanies, site visits, field notes, and reflexive investigation.
Likewise, Delamont suggests that the “core of the fieldwork is observation, recorded in field notes, supplemented by informal conversations with people” (2009, p. 53).
Our fieldwork sure included observations that were recorded in field notes (videos, photos, and written notes below), but we ultimately lacked the informal conversations that would give us integral insight into the experiences of cultural insiders. Upon reflection, this was mainly due to research limitations of time frame but we balanced this by pursuing our own research individually.
Then, we started collecting data and creating our collection of mixed media that would become our digital artifact.
Throughout this research we implemented many techniques described by Ellis et al. (2011)
Digital artifact COLLECTION
ebook: mudras of buddha
INFOGRAPHIC: FO Guang Shan
DIGITAL ESSAY: sPIRITUALITY
Delamont S 2009, ‘The only honest thing: autoethnography, reflexivity and small crises in fieldwork’, Ethnography and Education, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 51-63.
Ellis et al. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no.1.
Pitard J 2017, ‘A Journey to the Centre of Self: Positioning the Researcher in Autoethnography’, Qualitative Social Research, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 1-21.