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Experience and "I" in autoethnography: a deconstruction

Jackson, Alecia Y. and Mazzei, Lisa A. (2008) Experience and "I" in autoethnography: a deconstruction. International review of qualitative research, 1 (3). pp. 299-318. ISSN 1940-8447

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to deconstruct the "researcher as subject" (Ellis & Bochner, 2000) imperative in authoethnography in order to confront the limits of a reliance on experience and a narrative voice in the genre. We use poststructural theories of experience and language (i.e., voice) to analyze the assumptions of each and how these constructs are employed in autoethnography. We argue that in an attempt to engage the crises of representation by transgressively blurring genres and writing against the disembodied voice of objectivism, autoethnographers run the risk of simply replacing one privileged center with another, making similarly narrow claims to truth, authority, and authenticity as objectivism: autoethnography has exchanged transcendency for transparency. To keep autoethnographic practices "vigilant," as Spivak (1984-85) would have us do, we explore ways in which experience and the narrative "I" may be reconstituted in narrative research.

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