International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
Can I Tell You My Story? The Story Beyond the Stories: An Exploration into The Use and Value of Autoethnography Within Cross-Cultural Qualitative Research in Uganda, A Postcolonial Approach

Abstract


This methodological exploration engages critically with autoethnographic technique and scholarship, to examine and exemplify the value of autoethnography in enhancing qualitative inquiry within cross-cultural research. Though encompassing a myriad of definitions and approaches, autoethnography represents both a process and a product, that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experiences (auto) in relation to their wider cultural (ethno) context, producing an account of this critical process (graphy) to enhance sociological understandings. However, there is debate and methodological polarisation among autoethnographers concerning the degree to which (re)presentations of the method (the product) should be explicitly analytical, whereby personal stories are embedded within specific theoretical framings, and relevant wider literature. Therefore, specifically; this piece examines and demonstrates the use of autoethnography as a methodological tool in facilitating enhanced critical reflection and understandings within the context of the researcher’s wider study in which she; a Scottish, white, self-funded PhD student, employed narrative interviews amongst other qualitative methods within a population of Ugandan children living within an orphanage in Kampala. Given Uganda’s geopolitical history of colonial oppression and ongoing semi-authoritarian rule, combined with the researcher’s positionality plus a decade of personal experiences before, and beyond formal fieldwork, this article demonstrates the use of autoethnography engaging a postcolonial lens to illuminate the sociocultural and historical systems of power, that that shape personal reality (ontology), the ways the experiential components of this reality are portrayed and therefore the constraints under which such portrayals can be interpreted (epistemology), for example within narratives or interviews.  In doing so, the methodological value of a moderate approach to autoethnography is argued: that blends the human, heuristic value of personal experience as embodied knowledge with the scholarly affordances of theory and literature, showing how this method assists in situating one’s positionality and consequent influence within their research context; but offers words of critique and caution concerning the challenges of autoethnography.