February 10, 2007

epistemology of history

I am reading a history dissertation from Columbia about Stalinism in everyday life in Nowa Huta. The method (as I also began to see last summer, in Poland, talking to American grad students of history) seems so much more straightforward than in geography: find a topic; find an archive; read the archive; construct a reasonable narrative.

No navel-gazing about French social theory; no pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth about how "my" work fits into the ongoing conversation. Just a straightforward telling of new knowledge, fitted into the ongoing narrative of history.

Why is it so hard in geography? Am I making it harder than it has to be? (Probably: B says I pretty much do that about everything.) I've been auditioning various theories, and I'm just exasperated with the whole process. I do have a theory; it's my underlying, semiconscious epistemology of myself. What is it?

Posted by otto0114 at 10:17 PM

March 14, 2006

back to CDA

The Dictionary of Qualitative Inquiry by Thomas A. Schwandt (2nd ed) describes discourse analysis as the study of language-in-use or actually occurring language/texts in communicative contexts. It is a procedure [subset?] of textual analysis. It focuses more on content than form, form being the province of linguists. It differs from Foucauldian discourse analysis in that it focuses on speakers' constructions of worlds of meanings (the 'how") rather than on systems of thought that construct subjects and their worlds.

Not sure where I fit on that dichotomy: is Foucault in this sense a structuralist and the conversational analysis practitioners are agentists? I see the value of both, but I have to say that I expect that the established systems of meaning and specific cultural practices (of describing tourism) are really what I am about in the discourse analysis that I am doing.

The references for this short entry seem promising:

J. Potter, 1996, Representing Reality...
J. Potter 1997, "Discourse analysis as a way of analyzing..." in D. Silverman, Qualitative Research...
Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge, 1972
Schiffrin, D, Approaches to discourse, 1994

Maybe a little less useful because of disciplinary slant is J Potter and M. Wetherall 1995 "Discourse Analysis" in Smith Harre and Hangenhove, Rethinking methods in psychology.

In the 'genealogy' entry in the same dictionary I learn that Foucault was influenced by Nietzsche's idea of genealogical inquiry and his books use it (eg discipline and punish) to trace the history of certain concepts in order to question and overturn their taken-for-grantedness. The new meanings become part of the culture and get transmitted as if natural, self-evident, real.

Posted by otto0114 at 3:28 PM