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Democratizing Academic Writing: A Revision of an Experience of Writing an Autoethnographic Dissertation in Color

marcela polanco

2013 Colombia, South America

In this paper, I revise my experience of writing an autoethnographic ( Ellis, 2004) dissertation in the field of family therapy as a Colombian mestiza. I discuss how I grappled with my writing, and, in the process, stumbled into matters of democratizing texts. I problematize male – dominant academic standards, telling of the tensions when maneuvering at marking cultural and gender differences in my text. I focus on the storywriting of my storytelling when writing aesthetic, evocative, and emotional stories as a woman of color, at the intersection between autobiography and ethnography (Ellis, 2004). I discern elements of my handicraft as an artisan autoethnographer in training, taking from my local knowledge and family therapy training, in particular narrative therapy (White & Epston, 1990). I include excerpts of my dissertation to illustrate how my narrative therapy practices, intermingled with my cultural storytelling traditions, assisted me in shaping my idiosyncratic autoethnographic stories. I hope to add to the diversification of writing in the academia to make it more democratic and accessible; and to continue conversations about alternative ways to go about it.

Autoethnography, Narrative Therapy, Democratizing Academia, Mestiza Writing