Hannah Grist – Introduction to Paper: “Dennis Potter Heritage Project: Autoethnography as Methodology”
In this paper I will explore a part of the layered methodological approach I have adopted to study the heritage sector-led management of Dennis Potter’s legacy in the Forest of Dean. My research explores the emotional (affective) encounters audiences, staff, volunteers, and myself as a researcher; have with the past within the public, mediated space of the Dennis Potter Heritage Project (DPHP). Focussing on the way memories are constructed, mediated, and deployed by heritage producers, and how they are experienced and re-remembered by heritage consumers, the timeliness of this research and the proximity I have to the research topic is crucial.
Autoethnography is not an approach commonly associated with media research, but the complex interdisciplinarity of this study, where media meets memory in the heritage environment, makes this type of approach useful. In this paper, I will explore the Forest of Dean heritage environment; explore my background as a researcher; and explore autoethnography and many of its variations; offering some comments on questions of ethics, replicability and the Insider/Outsider debate along the way.