Monday, October 25, 2010

Once more, with feeling

Here I thought I was going to start this leg in my life's journey by immediately beginning to write a seminal piece, an innovative, brilliant contribution to humankind's collection of knowledge. Was I dead wrong. Here I am finding myself reviewing everything I have come to know in over a decade of scholarship. And then I find I have to recalibrate and reorient myself. Where to position my guns? To whom must I aim? I am told I must engage an audience. Why do I need to kowtow to the dominant scholars? To gain legitimacy? To write something publishable? All my critical, rebellious instincts are primed to flee.

Never have I become more aware of what the stakes are in choosing something as mundane as a methodological tradition and their ontological and epistemological assumptions. I have plopped in the middle of war fought on so many fronts. I am immediately on guard against American academia's imperialism. I am not a positivist. I do not want to do quantitative research. I refuse to be bound by my so-called 'discipline.' Why can't I draw from other fields of inquiry? Why must I limit myself to the dictates of canon? King, Keohane and Verba can go fuck themselves.

'Big dumb IR,' says Dr. M. Haha. One cannot be more apt. I can now poke holes in my old field's dominant theoretical frameworks. I knew there were criticisms, now I know what the huge lapses are in concept formation, in causal inferences, in validity. The technical lingo is not new, but with age and a little more experience, how and why they matter are clearer. The normative aspects of scholarship still animate me, still gets my blood going. Theory is for some one and for some purpose, says the good old Neo-Gramscian. Those who have the capacity to write history are the rich and powerful. In many ways, what we know today, the lenses with which we view reality are created by those who have had a stake in maintaining the status quo. I am bound by own personal history. I am, now more than ever, conscious of being Other. Surprise surprise, the view from the bottom is radically different from the view from above.

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