Using the Once Familiar to Make the Familiar Strange Once Again: Engaging with Historical Inquiry and Autobiography in Contemporary Ethnographic Research
© The Author(s) 2018.
This paper builds on Delamont’s (2010) strategies for fighting familiarity, particularly her argument that we need to revisit educational ethnographies of the past. The paper argues that wider historical accounts, from both inside and outside of education, can also cultivate the sociological imagination in this way. Inspired by feminist historical inquiry the author will demonstrate how she has used history (e.g. feminist autobiography) to make the ‘familiarity’ of contemporary girlhood ‘strange’. The paper will draw on examples from the author’s own experience of interpreting and representing the lives and experiences of girls in elite educational settings, to show how this subject, which was once considered strange, can become all too familiar and thus prey to historical amnesia. An argument is made here for the need for strategies which help us fight familiarity in our interpretations and theorisations of the lives of those we study. The paper suggests that historical accounts represent one way in which we can bring an openness and playfulness to this process, in order to question the self-evidence of what we see.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from SAGE Publications via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 18 (5), pp. 538-553.