Conceptualizing Autoethnography as Assemblage: Accounts of Occupational Therapy Practice

  • Sally Denshire Charles Sturt University Albury, Australia
  • Alison Lee University of Technology Sydney, Australia


Drawing on theoretical work within ethnography and poststructuralism, this article discusses a conceptualization of autoethnography as assemblage. The concept of assemblage includes but goes beyond the literal bringing together of a range of heterogeneous elements in different modalities to offer different perspectives on a phenomenon. It challenges and displaces boundaries between the individual and the social through a focus on practice, which offers a new ontology of the social. These ideas are illustrated through excerpts from an autoethnographic study of an occupational therapist working with young people in a Sydney children’s hospital in the mid-1980s. The article makes visible a material, relational, and affective landscape of remembered practice. Through successive displacements of the self as the primary site of experience and meaning, we seek to contribute new understandings about the potential for autoethnography to engage with professional practice as a space of multiplicity.

Author Biographies

Sally Denshire, Charles Sturt University Albury, Australia
Sally Denshire PhD (UTS) is a lecturer in Occupational Therapy in the School of Community Health and a member of the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE) at Charles Sturt University, NSW, Australia.
Alison Lee, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Alison Lee is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Research in Learning and Change at the University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, Australia.