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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/s0j4-3p24

technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Utilizing Time-Diaries: Challenges and Success in Ethnographic Research amongst Individuals Diagnosed with Chronic Mental Illnesses



mental health


This paper focuses on the use of time-diaries as a way to incorporate the voices of my participants in my dissertation research, which focused on how individuals with chronic mental illnesses navigated the mental health care system in New Orleans, Louisiana. During my fieldwork, race became a prevalent theme, as my interlocuters initially questioned if I was Black or white. Race also impacted how my participants responded to some of my methods, particularly interviews, and I found differences in how Black participants responded to interviews vs. white participants. As a way to decolonize my methods and include participants in the research process, I employed the use of time-diaries, where I asked individuals to record how they felt and what they did for a two-week period. In this paper, I discuss the challenges with using time-diaries amongst individuals with chronic mental illnesses but also highlight the successes. I examine how giving a direct voice to this population through the employment of time-diaries provides a way to empower this population within the disability rights movement. What truths do individuals with chronic mental illness share when given the chance to do so in their own voice? How do they share their stories? Aligning with this year’s theme of “Truth and Responsibility,” I conceive this method as a way “to meet the demands of the present moment” in the anthropology of mental health.


Transcript English (automatic)

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