Stalk like an Egyptian

Published by Tony Quinlan on

I’m head-deep in my dataset of micro-narratives from Egypt today stalking results – I hope to put something up later in the week to show what emerges from all this fabulous data. (For a taster, here are a couple of quick triads from the project:

Egyptian Sensemaker survey triad

Egypt Sensemaker survey justice triad

In the meantime, however, I wanted to point at two important blogs on narrative, particularly counter-narrative and the ideas around using narrative in security situations.

The first, somewhat inevitably, is Dave’s blog today: Counter narratives. It’s a subject I’ve been vocal on recently – and am writing about in a current piece – that the obsession among some groups with “developing a counter-narrative” is flawed, doomed and a waste of energy. The problem usually being addressed – the idea that some opposing group has an overarching narrative that must be resisted/countered – is in itself somewhat flawed, but the idea of a counter-narrative meeting story with opposing story will make matters worse, not better. Where narrative is concerned, you cannot disrupt a narrative with a stronger/more powerful counter. Instead you need to take a different approach – Aikido/Tai Chi for instance – deflecting the narrative and finding alternative narratives that divert, not confront.

The second blog I spotted today, was Cynthia Kurtz’ piece, Narrative inquiry without participation, looking at narrative – initially in response to a recent conference on narrative in security, but with some excellent points about the more generic use of narrative and the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches. (I should say that, while I haven’t ever met or spoken with Cynthia, I enjoy her blog and the article she co-authored with Dave a few years ago is still one that introduced me to much of the world of complexity and, in particular, the Cynefin framework.)