Volume 6 Issue 1 (2010): Autoethnography as Research Practice
Using Autoethnography to Explicate Social Identities

Doing Ethnography, Being an Ethnographer: The Autoethnographic Research Process and I

Rahul Mitra
Purdue University
Published August 9, 2010
  • autoethnography,
  • performative writing,
  • doing,
  • being,
  • Theory,
  • reflexivity
  • ...More


I examine here Theory and Scholarship (taken to be formalized social scientific frameworks that seek to map out the real world and social actions in an objective fashion) via an autoethnographic lens. Chiefly, I ask how autoethnography as a research method reconfigures them: how may we extend knowledge using autoethnography? While much critique has centered on the "doing" (dispassionately?) versus "being" (going native?) of autoethnography, I argue that such a dichotomy is inherently false. Instead, doing is located within the ethnographer's very being, so that a closer look at the autoethnographic research process is required, from conception to implementation to introspection. I attempt such a processual analysis here: drawing on an earlier social scientific project, I relate the intellectual and social process whereby it was translated into an autoethnography. Using a performative lens to illustrate the dialectical mode of doing and being in the research process, I intersperse portions of personal narrative with academic writing, to enable a disjunctural appreciation of the various layers of interpretation. While the epistemic framework I hold to here is indeed a poststructural one, privileging fragmentation and social situatedness, it also emphasizes continuity and interconnections in the research process.