Clare Holdsworth, Professor of Social Geography, School of Geography, Geology and Environment, Keele University

Making Autoethnography

Many researchers have turned to autoethnography as a result of covid-19 lockdowns. Faced with impossibility of face-to-face research, autoethnography provides one solution to carrying on with research off line. Autoethnography is not just a method for lockdowns, it is an accepted methodology in the social science repertoire, though one that can be treated with suspicion.

In this session I will introduce how I have adapted autoethnography to write about my sewing practice, including how this has changed during lockdown. The potential of researcher as maker has been developed in a number of autoethnographic studies. There is a discernible bias in the literature towards apprenticeship and researchers have written about, for example, learning to become a glassblower, taxidermist, stonemason, and butcher. My account of sewing is different as I am not an apprentice; I have been sewing for over 40 years. Moreover sewing is a more mundane as well as highly gendered craft. Women may be assumed to be able to sew and apply this skill in different ways. Thus my accounts of autoethnography considers sewing in relation to life course and gender. I also consider how ethnography is a method of making and how turning my attention to my own practice has brought about changes is how I sew and my intentions towards sewing.

In this session I introduce the different methods I have used to observe myself and how these have developed my interpretation of materiality and making. I also discuss the ethics of autoethnography and issues that potential researchers need to think about when adopting this method.

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Aneta Hayes
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+44 1782 733556