Picking up the Thread: Recasting Dogon Ideas of Speech in the Work of Geneviève Calame-Griaule

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American Anthropological Association
Taking into account the significant body of critique built up around the Dogon corpus, I return to Geneviève Calame-Griaule s ethnography of speech among the Dogon, Ethnologie et langage: la parole chez les Dogon (Words and the Dogon World), to appreciate its role in moving language to the center of ethnographic research. Calame-Griaule s contributions included attention to the full range of communicative practices, giving theoretical weight to her interlocutors embodied linguistic practices, emphasizing the Dogon positioning of speech in the physical and social body, and stressing the importance of analyzing how context renders speech both meaningful and efficacious. Calame-Griaule departed significantly from the Dogon school by focusing not on language and cosmology but rather on language in context that is, everyday talk. Calame-Griaule s work reveals a conception of the types of linkages possible between sign relations and language and materiality. In addition to recasting Calame-Griaule s ethnography in relation to developments in anthropology and linguistics across the Atlantic, I also consider her theoretical insights into dialogicality and context in relation to her particular subjectivity within the Dogon school and among her Dogon interlocutors.
Buggenhagen, Beth. 2006. Picking up the Thread: Recasting Dogon Ideas of Speech in the Work of Geneviève Calame-Griaule. Anthropology and Humanism 31 (1): 57-74.
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