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Language and Materiality
Ethnographic and Theoretical Explorations


Shalini Shankar, Jillian R. Cavanaugh, Webb Keane, Michael Silverstein, Laura Miller, Keith M. Murphy, Steven Feld, Patrick Eisenlohr, Nikolas Coupland, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Crispin Thurlow, Adam Jaworski, Robert Moore, Paul Manning, Monica Heller, Paja Faudree, Mary Bucholtz, Jennifer Dickinson, Mark W. Hauser, Judith T. Irvine
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  • Date Published: October 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107180949

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About the Authors
  • Language and Materiality integrates linguistic anthropological and sociolinguistic scholarship on a range of topics: semiotic approaches to language, language commodification, sound, embodiment, mediatization, and aesthetics. Empirically rigorous, the volume engages scholars and students interested in language, its use, and meanings. It consists of three sections - 'Texts, Objects, Mediality', 'Sound, Aesthetics, Embodiment', and 'Time, Place, Circulation' - containing chapters and short commentaries, framed by a curated conversation about semiotics and materiality in anthropology. Each section theorizes intersections, connections, and relationships between language and materiality across diverse topics and ethnographic contexts. The volume shows that materiality may be approached as a feature of political economy, sensual experience, aesthetics, and affective relationships in its relation to language as talk, register, genre, ideology, and acoustic object. It consists of new perspectives on materiality as a vital dimension of social life and signification in global capitalism, connecting inquiries on subjects as diverse as food, media, fonts, and music.

    • Features a variety of text genres that present materials in differing ways, offering readers a range of opportunities for engaging with the topic
    • Interdisciplinary: it includes contributions from linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, cultural anthropology, and archaeology
    • Proposes a new theoretical paradigm for studying and analyzing language with a range of illustrative case studies of language materiality
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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107180949
    • length: 320 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    List of images
    List of tables
    List of contributors
    1. Toward a theory of language materiality: an introduction Shalini Shankar and Jillian R. Cavanaugh
    2. Curated conversation: 'materiality: it's the stuff!' Webb Keane and Michael Silverstein
    Part I. Texts, Objects, Mediality:
    3. Japan's trendy word grand prix and Kanji of the year: commodified language forms in multiple contexts Laura Miller
    4. Fontroversy! Or, how to care about the shape of language Keith M. Murphy
    5. Spelling materiality: the branded business of competitive spelling Shalini Shankar
    Part II. Transformation, Aesthetics, Embodiment:
    6. How the sausage gets made: food safety and the mediality of talk, documents, and food practices Jillian R. Cavanaugh
    7. 'Your mouth is your lorry!' How honk horns voice the acoustic materiality of reputation in Accra Steven Feld
    8. Transduction in religious discourse: vocalization and sound reproduction in Mauritian Muslim devotional practices Patrick Eisenlohr
    Part III. Time, Place, Circulation:
    9. Making and marketing in the bilingual periphery: materialization as metacultural transformation Nikolas Coupland and Helen Kelly-Holmes
    10. Word-things and thing-words: the transmodal production of privilege and status Crispin Thurlow and Adam Jaworski
    11. Language and materiality in the renaming of Indigenous North American languages and peoples Robert Moore
    12. The semiotic ecology of drinks and talk in Georgia Paul Manning
    Part IV. More Stuff: Short Topical Commentaries on Language and Materiality and Afterword: Can language be a commodity? Monica Heller
    Language, music, materiality (and immateriality): entanglements beyond the 'symbolic' Paja Faudree
    Why bodies matter Mary Bucholtz
    Physicality and texts: rematerializing the transparent Jennifer Dickinson
    History, artifacts, and the language of culture change in archaeology Mark W. Hauser
    Afterword: materiality and language, or material language? Dualisms and embodiments Judith T. Irvine

  • Editors

    Jillian R. Cavanaugh, CUNY, New York
    Jillian R. Cavanaugh is the Leonard and Claire Tow Research Professor at Brooklyn College and Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She is author of Living Memory: The Social Aesthetics of Language in a Northern Italian Town (2009).

    Shalini Shankar, Northwestern University, Illinois
    Shalini Shankar is Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, Illinois. She is the author of Advertising Diversity: Ad Agencies and the Creation of Asian American Consumers (2015) and Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley (2008).


    Shalini Shankar, Jillian R. Cavanaugh, Webb Keane, Michael Silverstein, Laura Miller, Keith M. Murphy, Steven Feld, Patrick Eisenlohr, Nikolas Coupland, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Crispin Thurlow, Adam Jaworski, Robert Moore, Paul Manning, Monica Heller, Paja Faudree, Mary Bucholtz, Jennifer Dickinson, Mark W. Hauser, Judith T. Irvine

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