Happy ways: The writing subject
I have been asked to write a chapter for this book on the dilemmas and consequences of publishing autoethnography (AE). I can hear the paper, waiting in the wings, warming up for a fretful performance, with privacy violations, public shame, and academic skepticism playing lead roles - but I don’t want that show to go on. The skeptics haven’t really hurt my career; the shame would exist with or without AE, and the violations would too; they’d just be in fieldwork sites that are further away and easier to forget. As Melissa Orlie (1997) argues, trespass is inevitable. Of course, there are degrees, and it ought to be minimized, but so far as I know, nothing terrible has happened or been prevented by my writing. There have been no dire consequences. I don’t know if this says something about AE or about me: High-risk activities (like driving) can stop feeling dangerous if you do them every day. Despite my vanity and the generosity of the readers who sometimes write to thank me for my work, I am not convinced that it matters or does much for anyone but me.