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The body as site of academic consciousness. A methodological approach for embodied (auto)ethnography

At first glance, doing (auto)ethnography is often related to narrative and writing. According to a basic definition, and etymology, autoethnography is a qualitative approach of research and writing (graphy) that seeks to systematically describe and analyze personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno) (Ellis, Adams, & Bochner, 2011). The first methodological obstacle arises, since describing-analyzing-writing are actions related to ‘intellectual’ work through the ‘head’, with the result expressed in words. However, beyond the verbal and factual, there is the researcher’s body and the self. Research involves emotions, bodily contact with others, and the perceptions of our own bodies.

Doing embodied (auto)ethngraphy means using the body as a research tool recognizing subjective experiences and “reflexive embodiment” (Crossley, 2006). This paper’s key proposition is to outline strategies to register bodily knowledge and experience based on my autoethnographic research in order to explore new ways of knowledge construction. Introspection, documentary data, and shared bodily experience are key elements for autoethnographic research emphasizing that knowledge is produced from lived bodies. This also contributes to recognize sensitive experiences in a certain context and revealing nonhegemonic ethnographic findings. I argue that autoethnographic research is also movement and bodily articulation, involving creative processes to reveal research results, in this way, emphasizing the body as an interface between the social environment, society, and scholarly work. I often apply experimentation beyond textuality together with systematic introspection, which can lead to a visual-performative result (Koeltzsch, 2020). As (auto)ethnographers, our body can be considered a first-hand research tool. Comprehending ourselves is a prerequisite to understanding others, and that includes the body. There are issues that all humans experience.

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