Putting theory in its place again

One of the comments on my last post about my use of ‘Orientalist grand narrative‘ as a core concept in my book made me think again. Thank you for that Mona. It made me realise that the book is not about the Orientalist grand narrative, but instead uses it as a major theoretical construct against which to position my main theme.

My main theme is how hybrid deCentred threads can be found in small culture instances that are at the core of my experience in Iran. The Orientalist grand narrative was and still is the major essentialist Centre threat to finding these threads even though I was not aware of it at the time.

Being driven to this realisation necessitated another major reorganisation of my introductory chapter. Instead of beginning with the Orientalist grand narrative, I have now placed it in second place to an initial discussion of hybrid deCentred threads and small culture form­ation on the go.

As a general principle, more well-known, and hence more seductive theoretical positions should not be allowed to dominate. They too easily mop up attention. We should use them, but show clearly how they are used. They should not be allowed to crowd out our main ideas.

I like to use diagrams; but I have to be careful with them. Often they are more for me to make sense than useful for my readers. I therefore often delete them once they have served my sense-making purpose. However, in this case, a small, very simple diagram helped me a lot to clearly place the Orientalist grand narrative in secondary place.

The reorganisation has also required a lot of reconnecting – new transitions between blocks of writing that are now in different places. These new transitions in themselves forced me to clarify my thinking even further. The blocks themselves also needed breaking down and writing better.

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