Representing Ethnographic Data Through the Epistolary Form: A Correspondence Between a Breastmilk Donor and Recipient

Katherine Carroll*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article experiments with the dialogic epistolary form as a non-traditional representation of ethnographic research on the topic of breastmilk donation. The epistolary genre was chosen because its structure, purpose, and history embodies the key findings of this research, for example, the gulf between milk donors and recipients and the curiosity held by each for the other. The article argues that the dialogic epistolary form provides a more engaging, expansive, and expressive account of the researcher’s role in the ethnographic research process than that offered by traditional academic genres. The article presents research findings in the epistolary form, which provides an accessible and novel presentation of research by inviting readers to occupy the position of both the milk donor and the donor milk recipient. The letters can be used as a resource by health professionals and communities involved in human milk donation or the use of donor milk. The letters are accompanied by an exegesis which offers ethnographers an account of the epistolary genre as a non-traditional form of research representation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-695
Number of pages10
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Volume21
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

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