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Judith Irvine

Bakhtin and Beyond, Senegal and Beyond

Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 4:45pm

Woodburn Hall 221A

The African Studies Program presents

Dr. Judith Irvine
Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Bakhtin and Beyond, Senegal and Beyond

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Reception 4:45 pm Woodburn Hall 221A
Presentation 5:30 pm Auditorium A152 (enter from south parking lot)

In this presentation I consider some aspects of Bakhtin’s work that have been important in linguistic anthropology, particularly the concepts of voice, double-voiced utterance, and heteroglossia. Examples are drawn mainly from ethnographic research in Senegal and more recent studies of Senegalese people in diaspora. The presentation has two main parts. (1) In my Senegalese work I have used “voice” and “heteroglossia” to explore register relations in rural Wolof language use. Those patterned ways of speaking were revealed only through intensive ethnography; so this is a plea for ethnography of a particular kind. (2) Some of my more recent work focuses on the salience and variety of relations between Wolof and French in Senegalese speakers’ usage, both in-country and abroad. The complexity of those relations raises questions about what “voice” and “double-voicing” entail. In conclusion, I ask whether, and when, an analysis needs to enlarge upon the Bakhtinian concepts, supplementing them or moving beyond them.

Judith Irvine is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on language ideology, language and political economy, performance, and colonial and historical linguistics in Senegal and the Senegalese diaspora.

This event is co-sponsored by the Departments of Anthropology and Communication & Culture.