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Speech, silence, and slave descent in highland Madagascar

Freeman, L; (2013) Speech, silence, and slave descent in highland Madagascar. JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE , 19 (3) 600 - 617. 10.1111/1467-9655.12052. Green open access


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This article is an examination of the uses and effects of words and silence. It analyses the rhetorical strategies used in connection with a fundamental cleavage in highland Malagasy society: the distinction between people of free and slave descent. A pervasive silence hangs over this topic since it is almost never mentioned between the two groups. This silence, along with the careful words used to play down status differentiation, forms the rhetorical micro-politics of village life. The article takes the view that this wholesale avoidance constitutes a generalized speech act: that is to say, it is constituted of diverse motivations and strategies, and has multiple and contradictory effects. One of these is that while allowing a liveable fiction of equality to be evoked, these rhetorical strategies also entrench the division even more deeply.

Type: Article
Title: Speech, silence, and slave descent in highland Madagascar
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.12052
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12052
Additional information: © 2013 The Authors. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the Royal Anthropological Institute. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1360420
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