Categories · DIGC · Digital Asia

Ethnographic Analysis: Gojira

“Auto-ethnography was meant to serve as a reflexive and indeed, therapeutic medium for the author, while at the same time illuminating the culture which he/she studies.”

E. Cohen’s quote seems to illuminate what I seem to have been misunderstanding in the definition of autoethnography. Or rather, it clarifies the definition. In my post last week (Autoethnography: A first look) I spoke a lot about exactly what it was I was experiencing, in this case, watching Gojira. In fact I think I spoke too much about it, perhaps starting to tell the story of my experience, instead of going into what that experience shows about the culture. There are plenty of things that Gojira opened my eyes to regarding Japanese culture and even film culture in the 1940’s, however I failed to highlight these epiphanies and continued to recount my experience of the culture.

My assumptions in the previous post are numerous. “I think watching Godzilla in Japanese with subtitles opened my eyes to just how developed the foreign movie industry is, even in 1954.” This statement clearly displays my assumption that the foreign movie, or even entertainment industry would have been under developed around the 1950’s. Although I pointed out why I may have assumed that afterwards, I didn’t acknowledge that I did in fact assume. As H Chang points out, there is a distinct link between “the self and the social”, and that is one of the most important aspects of autethnography I think I missed.

Gojira, commonly known as the “original” Godzilla movie, is a clear commentary on the horrors the Japanese people suffered during and after the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. The intent of this thesis is to demonstrate that Gojira is a rhetorical experience that permitted the Japanese to discuss the un-discussable—namely, the destruction of Japan caused by the awakening of the American “monster” of war and nuclear weapons.

I think for a first attempt at ethnographic analysis I didn’t quite tick all the boxes, however considering at the time I could barely grasp at what the fundamental concepts behind autoethnography were I didn’t do too bad. In hindsight there are plenty of ways I could have been more accurate/produced a better ethnography, however I think this analysis and my update of the ethnography have clarified my reasoning and experience of watching Gojira.



Cohen, E. (2015) ‘Flooded: An auto-ethnography of the 2011 Bangkok flood’, Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 5(2), pp. 316–334.

Chang, H., 2008. Autoethnography as method (Vol. 1). Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.


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