Literacy and Literacies is an engaging account of literacy and its relation to power. The book develops a synthesis of literacy studies, moving beyond received categories, and exploring the domain of power through questions of colonialism, modern state formation, educational systems and official versus popular literacies. Collins and Blot offer in-depth critical discussion of particular cases and discuss the role of literacies in the formation of class, gender, and ethnic identity. Through their analysis of two domains - those of literacies and power, and of literacies and subjectivity - they challenge received assumptions about literacy, intellectual development and social progress and argue that neither 'universalist' nor 'particularist' accounts offer satisfactory approaches to the phenomenon. This is a sustained exploration of the domain of power in relation to literacy. It will be welcomed by students and researchers in anthropology, linguistics, literacy studies and history.
James Collins is Professor of Anthropology and of Reading at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He is the author of Understanding Tolowa Histories: Western Hegemonies and Native American Responses (1998), as well as of book and journal articles. Richard Blot is Assistant Professor at the Graduate Program in Literacy Studies, Lehman College, City University of New York. He has published in a number of journals, including TESOL Quarterly, Anthropology and Education Quarterly and Latin American Anthropology Review.
List of figures; Foreword Brian V. Street; Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction: texts, power and identity; 2. The literacy thesis: vexed questions of rationality, development and self; 3. Situated approaches to the literacy debate; 4. Literacies and power in modern nation states: Euro-American lessons; 5. Literacies and identity formation: American cases; 6. Literacy, power and identity: colonial legacies and indigenous transformations; 7. Conclusion: literacy lessons - beginnings, ends and implications; Notes; References; Index.