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October 2011

organic cultural theory

Organic theory is derived from lived experience.  It's the feeling of being oppressed, suppressed, repressed -- it's the voice that rises up against suppression and oppression.  What it is not is rational nor analytical nor methodological.  Rather, it begins with a feeling of being oppressed by a misrepresentation of self.  It begins in the interior of the self, with pressure being put on the self by what it is not.

So many within cultural studies want to theorize  oppression as if it were an object of study that can be methodologically identified.  But this approach too often ignores how oppression begins with a feeling -- a feeling of being misrepresented or being silenced or ignored.  Writers -- as opposed to theoreticians --seek to represent these feelings as they bubble up.  You see such writing in Michelle Cliff's If I Could Write This In Fire, where she writes about the feeling of being mulatto and  yet white enough to be afforded the privileges of a British education.

Organic theory is about running up against constraints and feeling those constraints deeply enough that one wants to write against them.  Reform begins with running up against social constraints.  Resistance to those constraints is a feeling.