Victoria Ward reminds me of an excellent quote from Clifford Geetz in 1968 which helps frame my methodology:
‘In attempting to answer grand questions …, the anthropologist is always inclined to turn toward the concrete, the particular, the microscopic. We are the miniaturists of the social sciences, painting on Lilliputian canvases with what we take to be delicate strokes. We hope to find in the little what eludes us in the large, to stumble upon general truths while sorting through special cases." (my italics)
[From the introduction to Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia]
As Victoria says in Fiction as a Place of Truth:
"In our narrative enquiry, we must hold onto our role as miniaturists and act as custodians who find ways to get people to see and hear and feel those tiny moments which hold huge difficult truths. And to do this we must play with new forms of representation to make sure what we make tears in the fabric that has been so cunningly woven..."
I think of this as I read Graham Pechey talking about Mikhail Bakhtin and language: The Word in the World:
"Every sign glances sideways at other signs, bears the traces of them within its body, and faces simultaneously towards speaker, object, context and addressee. Like human subjects, words are constituted by their relations to otherness and language is always porous, hybrid and open-ended. There was never a first word, and there could never be a last one. The inherent unfinishedness and unpredictability of language - the fact that I can never deduce from any two of your words what the third one is going to be - is a token of human freedom, and thus in a broad sense political. Signs are never self-identical, and always mean more than they say (a surplus that includes what they don't say). The enemy is what Bakhtin dubs "monologism", meaning the kind of meta-language which seeks to subdue this irrepressible heterogeneity."