This blog contains ethnographical and narrative accounts of my four years living and teaching in Barranquilla, Colombia. It is my hope that I have illuminated at least one person’s attempt at the acculturation process.
A Discussion of Genre
My original intention was to classify the genre of this blog as an “autoethnography,” a combination of research, culture, and autobiography, but I didn’t want to be limited by the genre or run the risk of false classification. Instead, I use the term “cross-cultural memoirs,” a label that allows me to include components from multiple genres like journalism, ethnography, autobiography, and other literary genres like poetry, fiction and more. The label also allows me to accomplish many of the same goals I would have when writing autoethnography, but I don’t have to worry that I am focusing too much on narrative, or myself, and I can freely craft an art form that is entertaining, emotionally provocative and that illuminates small aspects of human nature.
If I had to narrow it down to a specific genre, I would say it is literary-autoethnography-that-isn’t-afraid-to-fall-deep-into-narrative-form-or-a-borderline-egotistical-discussion-of-self.
That said, categorizing a type of writing is often arbitrary. What matters most are the reasons for writing a particular piece and the work’s effect on the writer and his or her readers.
The first of my three goals I borrowed from Heewong Chang’s (2007) article “Autoethnography: Raising Cultural Consciousness of Self and Others,” which describe my intentions perfectly. I have also added a fourth goal which I created myself.
Check out Dr. Chang’s article to get a better understanding of autoethnography:
Heewon Chang (2007), Autoethnography: Raising Cultural Consciousness of Self and Others, in Geoffrey Walford (ed.) Methodological Developments in Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Volume 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.207-221
Goals for this blog
1. “Connect our individual past with our individual and collective present.”
2. “Understand culturally rooted reasons for our comfort with others of similarity, discomfort with others of difference, and aversion with others of opposition.”
3. “Expand this understanding into culturally unfamiliar territories (Chang 2007)”
4. Create a literary art form that is not only entertaining and provocative, but which also sheds light on the acculturation process and contemplates what it means to be human.