Comprehending autoethnography through playing dress up

Having meaningful experiences in life relate to your physical, mental, social and political contexts. Your past actions and decisions influence how you will take on changes, challenges and new experiences in the future.

This is what we describe as an auto-ethnographic relationship between one’s self and texts according to Carolyn Ellis, Tony E. Adams and Arthur P. Bochner. This paradigm of research and writing seeks to comprehensively construe and analyse social, political and cultural impacts in relation to an individual’s experience. The main purpose of this form of research/writing is to identify personal biases and prejudices and relate them to the understanding of a new culture. This may be through the route of text, technology, industry, subcultures, digital media platforms or even practice. It is through these avenues of research that epiphanies are born, creating a new direction of critical thinking or research for an individual. This methodology creates an environment for personal thought process, as to say, an individual can make sense of something from their own past experiences. Personal experience is key as stereotypes are challenged and defined through either an evocative (creative research) or analytical (traditional research) approach to auto-ethnography. I prefer an evocative approach to auto-ethnography.

Comprehending a unique and new culture is almost impossible to empathise with through theories and assumptions, as we have no means of feeling what people from different cultures from us are experiencing.

Throughout the progression of my research, I have decided to use Denzin and Lincoln’s (2000) qualitative approach to research as a guide for how I will research:

“qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meaning people bring to them”

However, this approach is somewhat lacking. This is due to narratives also being a valuable source of data for research, and immersing one’s self in a culture is the most powerful form of self-reflexivity and reflection (Marshall and Rossman’s, 1999).

It will be extremely interesting to identify the tropes and stereotypes which I ‘I believe’ resonate with Japanese culture as I undertake Digital Asia this semester. How will my Mediterranean upbringing and manufactured, cultural framework influence my critical thinking in relation to these tropes?


My family originates from the small island nation of Cyprus. It is interesting how we usually identify as Greek and not Cypriot as many people do not know where Cyprus is. Just a quick little thought. Source.

I am hoping to hone in on the subculture of cosplay from Japan and the influence that 3d printing technology has had on this culture. I am quite familiar with Japanese culture and have attempted cosplay in the past (to no avail) but have never fully understood or immersed myself. My understanding of Japanese culture and cosplay as a subculture will be interesting to test, as well as my assumptions and observations from online forums.


2012 Kris back at it again with the fails. First and only attempt at cosplay. Source.

It is this notion of auto-ethnography that I truly want to explore and integrate into my research.

“Autoethnographers must not only use their methodological tools and research literature to analyze experience, but also must consider ways others may experience similar epiphanies.” (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011)

I hope to experience multiple epiphanies throughout this semester and understand why others (new cosplayers) may experience the same feelings or opinions towards this subculture.



Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘,  Qualitative Social Research, 12:1, viewed 10th August 2017,

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Introduction: The discipline and practice of qualitative research. Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 1-28). London: Sage.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (1999). Designing qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.