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June 1, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

My jive on how to (possibly) deal with narratives in policy debate

Most of the criticisms of narrative are defenses of objectivity & science (aka modernity). Farber and Sherry may be your best bet here. They have a number of law review articles–I believe all of them are post 1990–and critique the idea of narratives (from the perspective of Reason and rationality). Its probably the case that their aff critiques such notions.

There are also critiques of “first person narratives” from the perspective of Truth. (ie first person accounts of major events aren’t reliable).

Although, there are internal critiques from each of the identity schools (aka worldviews) which take issue with narratives.

Western/White Guilt K (the author is escaping me at the moment)

More context to the affirmative in question would help other answerers provide better insights.
For instance, what is/are the narratives about?
how many narratives or how many narrative storytellers? (ie how many perspectives)
what is their justification for why narratives are good?
how does that relate to the ballot or the judge?

The quote above is quite good….but I think assumes a static version of identity….most all static versions of identity are bad. Some would argue that stories even have a chance to break those up.

One key point–some who run this argument will say that narratives are inevitable (ie you even tell stories on politics or any other DA) its just a question of WHO is telling the story or some other issue (and perhaps to what end…..and the method of which stories count as truth–ie stories from minorities might count more). As such, generic storytelling good/bad or narratives good/bad may not be an answer. However, it may be a decent place to start the conversation.

You could read counter-stories in terms of technology being bad or globalization or capitalism being bad–whatever K you answer with.

I would think about this question in terms of multiple types of proof……(ie the side which provides multi-layers of truth is probably going to come closer than the one that just speaks to one particular truth type). I’m not sure where you might find such evidence, but it is the true argument (outside of the inevitable -ism debate–probably around race or feminism/gender/sex). Given this logic creating a zero sum game between theory (or the macro level questions) versus the micro level questions of narrative is the wrong question. Thinking about both the macro and the micro is important to having a contextualized understanding of the question at hand. This is a guess on my part–although they may have arguments which put them in a position to say “we can have both & allow both….we just think narratives should be first.” At the moment, I’m not sure what I would say….but my guess is they aren’t talking about both–but only talking about one. Also, I would point out that “narratives = always priority” is a pretty limiting notion of “truth” and inquiry–and may not yield the best “truth.”

You could also pick another form of art/truth and defend that as having priority over narratives–or particularly first person narratives (especially if you have the first person narratives = bad and lead away from truth).

One final notion is the idea of victimology or single narratives (aka the possibility of essentialism).


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