Language and Materiality: Ethnographic and Theoretical Explorations

Language and Materiality: Ethnographic and Theoretical Explorations

By: Shalini Shankar (editor), Jillian R. Cavanaugh (editor)Hardback

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Language and Materiality integrates linguistic anthropological and sociolinguistic scholarship on a range of topics: semiotic approaches to language, language commodification, sound, embodiment, mediatization, and aesthetics. Empirically rigorous, the volume engages scholars and students interested in language, its use, and meanings. It consists of three sections - 'Texts, Objects, Mediality', 'Sound, Aesthetics, Embodiment', and 'Time, Place, Circulation' - containing chapters and short commentaries, framed by a curated conversation about semiotics and materiality in anthropology. Each section theorizes intersections, connections, and relationships between language and materiality across diverse topics and ethnographic contexts. The volume shows that materiality may be approached as a feature of political economy, sensual experience, aesthetics, and affective relationships in its relation to language as talk, register, genre, ideology, and acoustic object. It consists of new perspectives on materiality as a vital dimension of social life and signification in global capitalism, connecting inquiries on subjects as diverse as food, media, fonts, and music.

About Author

Jillian R. Cavanaugh is the Leonard and Claire Tow Research Professor at Brooklyn College and Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She is author of Living Memory: The Social Aesthetics of Language in a Northern Italian Town (2009). Shalini Shankar is Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, Illinois. She is the author of Advertising Diversity: Ad Agencies and the Creation of Asian American Consumers (2015) and Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley (2008).


List of images; List of tables; List of contributors; Acknowledgements; 1. Toward a theory of language materiality: an introduction Shalini Shankar and Jillian R. Cavanaugh; 2. Curated conversation: 'materiality: it's the stuff!' Webb Keane and Michael Silverstein; Part I. Texts, Objects, Mediality: 3. Japan's trendy word grand prix and Kanji of the year: commodified language forms in multiple contexts Laura Miller; 4. Fontroversy! Or, how to care about the shape of language Keith M. Murphy; 5. Spelling materiality: the branded business of competitive spelling Shalini Shankar; Part II. Transformation, Aesthetics, Embodiment: 6. How the sausage gets made: food safety and the mediality of talk, documents, and food practices Jillian R. Cavanaugh; 7. 'Your mouth is your lorry!' How honk horns voice the acoustic materiality of reputation in Accra Steven Feld; 8. Transduction in religious discourse: vocalization and sound reproduction in Mauritian Muslim devotional practices Patrick Eisenlohr; Part III. Time, Place, Circulation: 9. Making and marketing in the bilingual periphery: materialization as metacultural transformation Nikolas Coupland and Helen Kelly-Holmes; 10. Word-things and thing-words: the transmodal production of privilege and status Crispin Thurlow and Adam Jaworski; 11. Language and materiality in the renaming of Indigenous North American languages and peoples Robert Moore; 12. The semiotic ecology of drinks and talk in Georgia Paul Manning; Part IV. More Stuff: Short Topical Commentaries on Language and Materiality and Afterword: Can language be a commodity? Monica Heller; Language, music, materiality (and immateriality): entanglements beyond the 'symbolic' Paja Faudree; Why bodies matter Mary Bucholtz; Physicality and texts: rematerializing the transparent Jennifer Dickinson; History, artifacts, and the language of culture change in archaeology Mark W. Hauser; Afterword: materiality and language, or material language? Dualisms and embodiments Judith T. Irvine; Index.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107180949
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 320
  • ID: 9781107180949
  • weight: 570
  • ISBN10: 1107180945

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