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Natural Histories of Discourse

Is culture simply a more or less set text we can learn to read? Since the early 1970s, the notion of culture-as-text has animated anthropologists and other analysts of culture. Michael Silverstein and Greg Urban present this stunning collection of cutting-edge ethnographies arguing that the divide between fleeting discursive practice and formed text is a constructed one, and that the constructional process reveals "culture" to those who can interpret it.

Eleven original essays of "natural history" range in focus from nuptial poetry of insult among Wolof griots to case-based teaching methods in first-year law-school classrooms. Stage by stage, they give an idea of the cultural processes of "entextualization" and "contextualization" of discourse that they so richly illustrate. The contributors’ varied backgrounds include anthropology, psychiatry, education, literary criticism, and law, making this collection invaluable not only to anthropologists and linguists, but to all analysts of culture.

362 pages | 8 line drawings, 9 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1996

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Language and Linguistics: General Language and Linguistics

Table of Contents

The Natural History of Discourse
Michael Silverstein, Greg Urban.
1: Entextualization, Replication, and Power
Greg Urban
2: Text from Talk in Tzotzil
John B. Haviland
3: The Secret Life of Texts
Michael Silverstein
4: "Self"-Centering Narratives
Vincent Crapanzano
5: Shadow Conversations: The Indeterminacy of Participant Roles
Judith T. Irvine
6: Exorcism and the Description of Participant Roles
William F. Hanks
7: Socialization to Text: Structure and Contradiction in Schooled
James Collins
8: Recontextualization as Socialization: Text and Pragmatics in the Law
School Classroom
Elizabeth Mertz
9: The Construction of an LD Student: A Case Study in the Politics of
Hugh Mehan
10: National Spirit or the Breath of Nature? The Expropriation of Folk
Positivism in the Discourse of Greek Nationalism
Michael Herzfeld
11: Transformations of the Word in the Production of Mexican Festival
Richard Bauman
Codafication [sic]
Greg Urban, Michael Silverstein.
List of Contributors

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