Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Persistence
Secondary Theme: Identity and Equity
This panel examines how stories move through people and over time. We are particularly interested in the metalinguistic features and mechanisms through which stories and the voices of storytellers become entextualized (Urban, 1996) into other contexts and effect real change. As utterances travel, they retain residues, flavors, and pieces of their prior contexts (Bakhtin 1981). This influences the course of their journey, since those embedded contexts, including features like authorship and voice, can craft re-entextualized utterances into powerful tools that drive social formations.
In attempting to describe what stories do as they flow through people, classic linguistic models fail to take into account the complexity of participant roles engaged in these or other “utterance events” (Irvine 1996). Work by Hymes (1974), Goffman (1981), and others (Bakhtin 1981; Hill 1995; Irvine 1996; Keane 2000; Minks 2013) have recognized this shortcoming and called attention to the fact that speakers have complex relationships with their own, and others’, words. Still under consideration, however, is a means of taking into account the culturally-specific ways that prior or parallel utterance contexts, real or imagined, influence and inform any stretch of discourse, allowing speakers to assume responsibility for some voices in their speech, but not others, for example.
We bring together papers that examine how stories—used loosely to encompass songs, poetry, and other narrative practices—and the voices within them travel through time, space, speakers, and listeners. Voice, in particular, is often imbued with a moral quality when attributed to speakers such as deceased ancestors, community elders, or the leaders of social movements. What are the processes through which such voices become embedded within others and revoiced? What role do these voices play in the construction of participants’ social imaginaries? How does the flow of voices through time and space contribute to the construction and maintenance of systems such kinship, social movements, or identities?
Bakhtin MM. 1981. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, transl./ed. M Holquist, transl. C Emerson. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Goffman, Erving. 1981. Forms of talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Hill, JH. 1995. “Voices of Don Gabriel: responsibility and self in a modern Mexicano narrative.” In The Dialogic Emergence of Culture, ed. D Tedlock, B Mannheim, 97–147. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Hymes, D H. 1974. Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Irvine, Judith T. 1996. “Shadow conversations: The indeterminacy of participant roles,” In Natural Histories of Discourse, edited by Silverstein, Michael, and Greg Urban, 131-159. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Keane, W. 2000. Voice. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 9(1–2): 271–73
Minks, A. 2013. Voices of Play: Miskitu Children’s Speech and Song on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Urban, G., 1996. “Entextualization, replication, and power,” In Natural Histories of Discourse, edited by Silverstein, Michael, and Greg Urban, 21-44. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.