[lg policy] CFP: AAA panel "Polyphony in Politics"

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 4 16:06:13 UTC 2012

Forwarded From:  LINGANTH at listserv.linguistlist.org

Hello all,

I am hoping to put together a panel for the 2012 AAAs entitled "Polyphony
in Politics," and I'm looking for a few more presenters. The preliminary
abstract is below; if you're interested in participating, please send an
abstract of the paper you'd like to present to elise at uchicago.edu by
Friday, March 9th (but the sooner the better!).

Elise Kramer

PhD Candidate
University of Chicago, Department of Anthropology
elise at uchicago.edu

Polyphony in Politics

Mikhail Bakhtin famously argued that the novel as a literary form is
characterized by a multiplicity of voices, each with its own vantage point
and imagined social locus. This panel invites presenters to consider the
ways in which political discourse, too, is shot through with this
polyphony. The category of “political discourse” here is interpreted
broadly, encompassing everything from formal oratory to protests to the
everyday language of “identity politics” — and panelists are encouraged to
explore the bounds of politics in their presentations — but one of the
qualities that unifies all of these diverse communicative situations is the
speaker’s acute awareness of the uptake of her speech. Political language
is meant to be heard, even if only in certain contexts by certain people,
and this panel considers the ways in which political language’s form is
shaped by the inseparability of its production from its reception.

In particular, the panel encourages presenters to ask whether and in what
ways the heightened level of explicit scrutiny that political speech faces
makes words’ non-neutrality more salient, highlighting their connections to
other discursive moments and rendering them rhetorically valuable and/or
freighted. How do political actors, engaging in complex and multi-layered
calculi about their utterances both as interactions and as unmoored
circulating texts, marshall the heteroglossic landscape to create densely
polyphonic discourse? How do actors draw on conventionalized “voices”
associated with stereotyped social categories, both strategically (for
rhetorical purposes) and unthinkingly (constrained by notions of
“appropriateness” and intelligibility)? How do political actors voice
_themselves_, self-reflexively embodying different personae at different
moments? How do political voices vary within one group, between groups,
within one speech event, across speech events? How do actors use voicing to
align themselves with some and distance themselves from others? And what
are the effects of this polyphony: how is it taken up, responded to? How
does its legibility presuppose and entail specific sets of cultural beliefs?

By casting an anthropological eye on the variegated texture of political
discourse, the panel will emphasize language’s centrality in the political
process, not just as a denotational vehicle for conveying ideas but as an
indexical tool for effecting social change.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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