What was I thinking?

12 Feb

I was given the opportunity by the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding to reflect on an article I had published there some years ago. It is a rare opportunity indeed,to be able to reflect on what we have written, why we wrote it, and how we wrote it. Here are the first few paragraphs. If you would like the full thing (it’s only 1,000 words), then just leave a comment here or email me at roger.macginty@manchester.ac.uk

What was I thinking?, by Roger Mac Ginty

Original article: Mac Ginty, Roger (2012) ‘Between Resistance and Compliance: Non-participation and the Liberal Peace’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 6 (2): 167–187, DOI: 10.1080/17502977.2012.655601

Almost everything we write, even a shopping list or a scrawled note for our office door, is autobiographical. What we write says much about us. It can give insights into what and how we read. It can reveal much about our worldview and our positionality. It can capture mood and emotion, and transform the two-dimensional page into a multi-dimen-sional signifier of time, place and sentiments.
Even academic works that are rendered into apparently static formats such as a journal article or book chapter can be extremely telling about a moment in the author’s intellec- tual journey. This journey is perhaps most visible in hindsight. When an author is in the middle of collating information to write an article and faced with multiple deadlines and other pressures, it is unlikely that he or she will have the presence of mind to step back and situate the article under construction as a waypoint in that intellectual journey. Moreover, most of us probably need a few grey hairs and the shadow of middle age to be able to look back with any degree of confidence and self-awareness. And even then, are authors the best people to judge their own work?
Being able to revisit something that is already published is a rare treat. Most publi- cations are ‘fire and forget’. As long as they pass the gatekeeping provided by reviewers, then they are sent off to the publisher, proof-read and that it is. They stay frozen in ink and, in the case of this author’s corpus, largely ignored.


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