Chapter 6: Hyper-Embodiment and Outsider-Research-Pursuing Empathy and Connection in the Field


This chapter is an autoethnography of a critical qualitative open-ended narrative researcher/professor navigating skepticism surrounding her motives and methodology from a research participant and a quantitative social scientist. An interviewee’s questions why she would be interested in elders’ personal narratives of memory loss crystallizes the challenges of developing rapport as an outsider in the research field. The author asserts that a “hyper-embodied” approach to personal narrative research offers opportunities embrace shared physical and social vulnerability, pursue empathetic connection, and transform culture through storytelling. Back at her office, a conversation with a colleague crystallizes the tensions surrounding the differing goals of positivist social scientific versus critical/post-structural performance research. The author reflects on the hope and possibilities of personal narrative research.