Patricia A. and Peter Adler’s 1999 article on The Ethnographer’s Ball, a hypothetical geography of the community of ethnographers, launched this exercise in futurist speculation. What will happen to autoethnography in the future? What historical trajectory will it take? The adherents of autoethnography—now in its ascendance as a research movement, particularly with the launch of its new journal—will likely follow one or another trajectory that previous intellectual communities have traced. This paper projects five potential scenarios for the future of autoethnography twenty years from now: from universal acceptance, to a narrowly defined community, to being hijacked by a future intellectual movement, to institutionalization within the academy, to complete disappearance. It compares these scenarios to the fates of other scholarly communities such as symbolic interaction, world-systems analysis, and social impact assessment.
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