Insider, outsider or multiplex persona? Confessions of a digital ethnographer’s journey in Translation Studies

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By Chua Yu @yu_clara

JoSTrans 34 (2020


Abstract | Much attention has been paid to online collaborative translation in the past three decades. Methodologically, how we examine various forms of translation practices and communities on the internet is a challenge. Whilst digital ethnography has been recognised as a feasible methodology, the ethnographer’s positionality throughout the process of fieldwork is often overlooked in the Translation Studies context. In this paper, I present a confessional tale consisting of three vignettes foregrounding the challenges, doubts and anxieties that I have confronted while using digital ethnography to study a Chinese online translation community. My reflections proceed from an analysis based on an insider/outsider dichotomy to the realisation of an alternative perspective, the multiplex persona. I argue that in the digital space, the notion of a multiplex persona, which views subjectivity and positionality from a decentred, multiplex and multi-dimensional perspective, is more constructive in helping researchers understand where these dilemmas come from, why they emerge, and how negotiations between the ethnographers and their informants develop.