Title

He(art)ful Autoethnography

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1999

Keywords

autoethnography, health communication, narrative, breast cancer, ethnography, heart, empathy, emotions, Autoethnography, Arts and Humanities, Communication, Health Communication, Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies, Social History, Social Psychology and Interaction, Sociology

Abstract

The author seeks to develop an ethnography that includes researchers’ vulnerable selves, emotions, bodies, and spirits; produces evocative stories that create the effect of reality; celebrates concrete experience and intimate detail; examines how human experience is endowed with meaning; is concerned with moral, ethical, and political consequences; encourages compassion and empathy; helps us know how to live and cope; features multiple voices and repositions readers and “subjects” as coparticipants in dialogue; seeks a fusion between social science and literature in which, as Gregory Bateson says, “you are partly blown by the winds of reality and partly an artist creating a composite out of the inner and outer events”; and connects the practices of social science with the living of life. In short, her goal is to extend ethnography to include the heart, the autobiographical, and the artistic text. This article provides a conversation with a student researching breast cancer that introduces issues in heartful autoethnography.