Autoethnographic Realisation of Legitimacy of Voice: A Poetic Trail of Forming Researcher Identity

Thirusha Naidu


During my research with home-based care volunteers in South Africa I used autoethnography and poetic reflection to document the parallel realisation of my changing identity as a researcher and the home-based care volunteers' realisation of their identity as significant contributors to the HIV/AIDS care and support networks in their community. I explored how the concepts of space and witnessing were operative in the realisation of a legitimate identity for the participants and me. Physical space or distance from familiar environments, experiences and ideas promoted alternative perspectives and stimulated the development of an understanding of personal identity. Dialogical space created through engagement with others encouraged identity development in both different and similar ways for me as a researcher and the participants. In this article, I recount my role as a witness to the participants’ realisation of identity whilst concurrently being witnessed by others in the process of developing my identity as a researcher. Witnessing is recognised as acknowledgement and affirmation in the process of identity development. A series of poems written during and after the primary data collection illustrate aspects of the discussion.



poetic reflection; autoethnography; transitional poems; research poetry; reflection; reflective practice; HIV/AIDS; home-based care volunteers; South Africa

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Copyright (c) 2014 Thirusha Naidu

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