Bridging theory and practice

May 11th, 2021 by Alva Blomkvist

One of the main points of conducting research is improving the quality of ‘something’ or finding the answer to ‘something’. It also seems to be reasonable that the aim goes further than writing a paper, book, dissertation etc. with some magnificent conclusions. However, there are many areas of our lives about which magnificent words have been written, but for some reasons are perfect only for a paper, basically, because they are not used in reality. This is why I believe that it is important to look a bit at bridging theory and practice, which would prevent losing endless hours spent on the fieldwork and writing somewhere in between.

An example on which this blog is based is Edward Said and his thoughts and beliefs about which he was writing extensively in the book ‘Orientalism’.  In the book, the author argues that the Western world has created a vision of non-Western areas as hard to define Orient. He argues that the vision of the Orient is full of mixed aspects of various countries and cultures, which were full of stereotypes, assumptions and to some extend imagination of the speaker. Eventually, Said in ‘Orientalism’, aims to teach a reader that the West by its ‘adventures ought now to be creating a more sober, more realistic “Oriental” awareness’ (2). By formulating this perspective, he has started a new era of looking at the colonial and postcolonial world, but the question is if he managed to go further than academia. In the environment of scholars could be found those who are against his words and pro, but it is undeniable that he underlined a problem of overgeneralisation of the non-Western cultures.

Already mentioned aspects were all analysed in the book ‘Orientalism’, which was launched almost 40 years ago and seemed to revolutionise the way of thinking of many scholars, but then there is reality and forty years later in which songs like ‘Princess of China’ by Rihanna and Coldplay, Dark Horse by Katy Perry, Wild Dreams by Taylor Smith are launched and present exactly the same vision of ‘the created Orient’ about which Said was writing to be dangerous.

Apart from the music industry, there are many areas which up till these days recreate or still create the false picture of the ‘Orient’ (like the movie Coming to America from 1988 and its sequel from 2021) and they do not seem to have changed since the last century. These are the only couple of examples of how apart from the great importance in academia knowledge is not used in the daily lives of people. However, this issue is not only connected with this particular area but can be found in various disciplines. This is why crucial is to think through how the written word may be transferred to the world of mass media and those who are not interested in reading academic journals.

Kasia Kiryluk

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