Blogs 2013-20. How it is possible to write. Issues with culture

My blogs before September 2020 are now published in a single document – here – with a new abstract:

This collection of blogs, published over seven years, comments on and engages with the topics that have also featured in my other publications: native-speakerism, neo-racist intercultural prejudice, my grammar of culture, blocks and threads, small culture formation on the go, and how it is possible to write.

They have been written for a number of reasons. They have helped me formulate ideas and sort out my thinking, sometimes written quickly to get through writing blocks. They reflect a lot of working out of ideas. The concept of intercultural blocks and threads was first expressed here, as was trying to achieve greater clarity about the nature of culture and speakerhood. They also enabled me to comment there and then on things that I see around me – in classrooms, public spaces, and cafés where I like to write because of the proximity to social life.

They have provided the freedom from the clutter of academic referencing conventions which has in turn influenced my more ‘formal’ writing. The non-academic style does not mean though that the blogs are anecdotal. They are written with the same care about how statements and claims can be made. Without reference to research literature to hide behind, there is greater caution about how to write convincingly. I have developed the conviction that if I cannot express ideas in this uncluttered form, they are not going to make sense anywhere else. There are occasional references where this was unavoidable, as is the case in this preface. Perhaps the rule should be to refer to others only when it’s a necessary way of showing a bigger picture. I find it a healthy task to find ways, without referencing, to say something potentially controversial without being shoutingly polemic. Indeed, working out how to do this helps me understand that referencing other people’s research and views does not in itself make writing convincing. While some blogs were written very quickly, others took months to get right.

There are two themes – ‘Issues with culture’ and ‘How it is possible to write’. The first deals with the substantive issues of native-speakerism and the intercultural. The second is the name of an article I published in 2005 which also informed the preface of my book of the same date. This was in response the question I had been asked about how I, as a privileged White, Western, male, could write about inequality, prejudice and neo-racism related to the intercultural and speakerhood. My response was that I have lived and indeed helped, without being aware, to construct the Centre discourses of prejudice from the inside and know how they operate. I am not being so presumptuous as to speak for the oppressed, but instead to speak to people like myself, and to anyone who has power over discourses, about how much better we can do. ‘How it is possible to write’ therefore underpins the ‘Issues with culture’ theme. Being potentially complicit in the prejudices of speakerhood and the intercultural requires very special care when writing and also when dealing with the inevitably subjective qualitative methodology behind the writing.

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