Thinking Methodology. The Lure of the Marginal

The Methodology is the reason why we are doing the research, who we are, our position, our way of thinking, all the factors that made us what we are as person, shaped our view of the world. When doing research, we are taking our view and put it in certain area.

It is different to be articulated. In order to approach it – quantitative and qualitative approach. First is measuring things, producing graphs, numbers, figures and it is more connected to science. Second is reading, writing, talking, coming to our own idea. In the world of funding, business do not think it is important (I just ‘feel’ it).

The Three Temptation:

  • The local
  • The marginal
  • The cosmopolitan


The Local in terms of methodology

Locating the local – a subject of sympathy. The local is methodology where the project is about something or someone devalued, ignored or subordinated under hegemonic regimes of power (homeless, voiceless people, not-very-happy people, repressed, etc.). The local as/is cultural translation – in other words the question of the local cannot be separated from the question of cultural translation itself (we in the role of translator).

What is wrong with that?

Post-colonial identity – Fritz Fanon, amongst others have pointed to the psychic mutilations and self mutilations of the ‘local’ voice, produced by a colonial past of oppression – it does not vanish or disappear once the liberated have found space to give voice. The advantage of the educated person to go out there and ‘give voice’ to those who are not advantaged. It is not the oppressor anymore, the colonizers, but the mutilations that leave scars.

As a researcher we have to be aware of our position – doing project about someone who is not privilege and we are; searching someone who is ‘the other’. Do project about your group.


The Marginal in terms of methodology

Jean Francois-Lyotard. The Post Modern Condition – about resisting the master discourses, ground narrative history, rejecting the previous ‘modernity’ making sense of the world (us as masters of the world). The big stories we are told are nothing but lies. That is why we go to look on little narratives, local knowledge, rejecting the bigger one. This is a temptation for the researchers – to concentrate on marginality.

What is wrong with that?

It is so attractive, but almost pointless. The marginality as avant-garde romance. The centre can acknowledge – the moment the marginal is acknowledge is problem, by identifying it serves to strengthen the position of the centre. Centre is strengthening when we focus on the margin – The Beauborg Effect: implosion and deterrence.

A form of deterrence that reconfirms the centre as centre, not a form of resistance of movements elsewhere – not progressive but debilitating – the marginal as stagnation.


The Cosmopolitan in terms of methodology:

The most tempting of all? Cosmopolitanism as mindset, it is the idea of person to be tolerant, embracing other cultures, other people, trying to understand others (we are all the same, we are humans), to be open-minded. One World Culture – ambiguous. Universalism sees all culture as one in a utopian assertion of equality. World culture (globalism) is not the same as one culture – the implication that everyone has an equal stake.

As researchers to present ourselves as well-rounded person. We won’t present our prejudices.

What is wrong with that?

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon: “I believe if there were any doubts as to the authenticity of the Koran, this absence of camels would be sufficient to prove it as an Arabian work. It was written by Mohammed, and Mohammed, as an Arab, had no reason to know that camels were especially Arabian; for him they were part of reality, he had no reason to emphasize them; on the other hand, the first thing a falsifier, a tourist, an Arab nationalist would do is have a surfeit of camels, caravans of camels, on every page.”

When we research something, we find things we do not understand and therefore thing it has to be shown, given voice of the othering. The temptation – the lure of the camel; the research as process of othering with best of intentions.


King Gillette believe that technology, faith in design will make the world a better place.

Futurism – founded in Italy at the turn of the 20th Century; social, political, artistic movement. How we should think about the future world, design better buildings, design carefully the city. The Cityscape replaces the Landscape as a space for artistic invention, creativity and radical thought. The city is not meant to last; each subsequent generation is expected to build their own city rather than inheriting the architecture of the past.

Machine Culture – to love the industrial, to see beauty in the mechanization of life. The pursuit of speed and efficiency. To make transparent the mechanisms of daily life – and to embrace them as things of beauty. Reject the romanticism of the past. Reject anything old – represented imitation. Aesthetic pre-occupations belied an implicit political and ideological preoccupation.

This lead to Fascism.

This is example is about difficulties starting the research, the methodology which defines the methods. The decisions we make in the beginning may become problems later. The bigger problem is not seeing the camel at all…


The main thing is to THINK, thinking about the research and why we are doing it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *