Letters to Those who Dare Feel: Using Reflective Letter-Writing to explore the Emotionality of Research

Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Mathabo Khau, Lungile Masinga, Catherine van de Ruit


Using reflective letter-writing as a method of generating data, a group of four researchers embarked on a collaborative autoethnographic inquiry into the emotional dimensions of researching social aspects of HIV & AIDS. In this article, we use the medium of a narrative dialogue to re-present and re-examine our reflective letter-writing method. The dialogue draws attention to key features of reflective letter-writing as a collaborative autoethnographic research method and, in so doing, highlights and explores the nature and potential significance of this method, as well as some challenges of using such a method. Our discussion points to the value of a collaborative process of reflective letter-writing as a way for researchers to access and portray emotional aspects of their research experience, to deepen their engagement with these emotional dimensions, and to gain insight into their own and others’ lived research experiences.

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