Documenting my thought processes – Guidelines for research

After finishing a review for a journal, I am still in an academic mode. I thought I would share my thought processes here. These are mere guidelines I use when researching, writing or trying to understand all sorts of phenomenon.  I suppose it is an insight into how my brain works

  • Don’t make claims without warrants.
  • NEVER fall for dualities and binary modes of thinking i.e. black/white, either/or. As a longer example, juxtaposing the gathering of women in a patriarchal space to secular liberal feminism does not mean we stop questioning oppression no matter how narrow the space. We don’t need to submit to either non-liberal contestable agency or First World secular feminism.
  • Get rid of certainty of knowledge and any broad generalized claims to truth – questions are better than statements. DECONSTRUCT AWAY!
  • What? Who? – I.E. What is criminalized? Who is the incarcerating regime? Keep your units of analysis clear.
  • LET THE SUBALTERN SPEAK – It is not the place of a secular, liberal and privileged scholar (albeit outsider) to tackle and analyze unfamiliar structures and discourses. Lets not assign agency to people who do not see themselves as agents, situating them in movements that they don’t consciously identify with.
  • Don’t obsess over categories, labels, boxes
  • Sympathize with the becoming, not the being
  • Never ignore the specific social and historical configuration within which the research is situated.
  • Keep this at the back of your mind – Ideas and assumptions do not exist outside the material conditions of life. Go to the root of the matter if you need to.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of minor acts and inconspicuous transformations — they may be the start of something more. Footnote them if possible.
  • Value narratives and experiences. Don’t shy away from feeling and emotions. They are oftentimes more powerful than empirical evidence.
  • Aim for discontinuities and ruptures in meta-narratives
  • Make notes of contradictions
  • Keep in mind: agency/structure without the binaries. It is a reproductive and cyclical process.
  • Do not disregard the importance of space – Colonial globality? Autonomous space? Hate-free zone? Sanctuary-sphere? Nuclear-free zone? — What space do we inhabit?
  • Never approach an issue in a uni-dimensional manner. It is not just nationalism, not just sexism, not just racism or classism  i.e. the gendered impacts of a globalization that has disparate impact on the rich/poor/ethnic minorities of developed, developing and underdeveloping countries. Try and see the broader linkages between ISMs, systemic patterns if possible while always being careful of meta-narratives.
  • Be a tragic-comic — Humor helps.
  • Question/Critique everything, including the self.

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