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Autoethnography and the Subalterns’ Discourse: the Writing of China in A Daughter of Han

Abstract: Autoethnography is a genre in which a western researcher with anthropological interest records the life story told by a subaltern culture individual and then presents it in the autobiographical form. Because the genre aims to interpret the ethnic group and the culture the individual belongs to via his/her life experience from the perspective and language of the cultural “Other”, it renders the speaking possibility to the subalterns. A Daughter of Han, written by Ida Pruitt, a missionary daughter, is presented in this genre. It tells the life experience of a woman from a small village of Shandong province, which reveals the contemporary social and cultural systems in North China, and ultimately displays the whole nations’ destiny and characteristics. By means of the analysis of the writer, the book’s content and form, this paper wishes to shed some light on some characteristics, values and significance this genre shares.

Keywordsautoethnography;subaltern; writer; perspective; language

Author:Zhu Chunfa, Ph.D.,is Associate Professor at Zhejiang University of Media and Communications. His research interest is life writing study. Email: Zhucf2013@163.com.