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Ajit Maan’s early work contributed to post-colonial theory by demonstrating how structures of post-colonial selfhood can be expanded and re-imagined. She has argued that diasporic populations which have benefited from post-colonial awakening are uniquely positioned to subvert the regulatory effects of any one culture and far from being in a lamentable situation (as Derrida theorized it) nomadic existence in-between cultures enables otherwise unimaginable techniques of self-creation.
Her breakthrough theory of Internarrative Identity came in 1997. She published a book by the same name in 1999 which was released in its second edition in 2010 (with the addition of the subtitle Placing the Self).
The central tenet of Internarrative Identity is that the ability of individuals to shape their lives is extended by multiple autobiographical narratives with associative principles beyond temporality, linearity, unity, and cohesion.
While the foundation of traditional Narrative Identity Theory is the holding together of life experiences in a unified structure, Internarrative Identity Theory celebrates what have previously been considered problematic areas of experience - conflict, marginalization, disruption, subversion, and deviation - as places of possibility for self creation. Internarrative Identity Theory locates the solution of narrative conflict within the problem itself. Existence in-between authoritarian discourses and dominant discourses enables an extended form of agency wherein a subject is able to undermine traditional associations, assumptions, concepts, and at the same time, create links between otherwise incommensurable world-views. Rather than being a passive recipient of dominant discourses the Internarrative subject is uniquely able to subvert regulatory identity practices.
Maan then turned her attention to the analysis of narrative as a means of combating terrorist recruitment tactics. Her seminal 2014 book, "Counter-Terrorism: Narrative Strategies," focuses on deconstructing dominant and coercive narratives and demonstrates how certain narrative structures lend themselves to manipulation and how the weaknesses of those structures can be exploited. Maan makes a connection, unique to terrorism studies, between the mechanisms of colonizing narratives and psychological warfare aimed at the recruit. Demonstrating that connection has made the book itself a counter-recruitment tool.
In 2017, Maan coined the term “Narrative Warfare” to refine what has been referred to as information wars and psychological warfare. Her current work seeks to demonstrate how Narrative Warfare is the foundation of information, psychological, or any form of non-kinetic warfare.
Her work has had far-reaching implications for counter-terrorism, military strategy, and community engagement in hostile environments. Maan’s work is frequently referenced in academic literature and has been the subject of international and multi-disciplinary scholarship including the recently published multi-authored scholarly monograph "Representations of Internarrative Identity," as well as being used instructional material in defense and security institutions world-wide.
Her articles have appeared in Special Operations Forces News, Homeland Security Today, Foreign Policy, Real Clear Defense, The Strategy Bridge, Small Wars Journal, Defense and Intelligence Norway, Stars and Strips, The Indian Defense Review, The Indian Military Review, and other policy and military strategy journals.
Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Oregon 1997
Military Writers Guild
Society for Terrorism Research
Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium
American Philosophical Association
American Psychological Association
American Philosophical Practitioners Association
Center for Narrative Therapy (Canada)
International Society for the Study of Narrative
CyberSpace Research Institute