Erasing the Race-Gender Nexus in Moral Discourses of Kinship: The American Stuttering English Speech Community as Case Study

Nathaniel W. Dumas, Anthropology

Click here to play: 

 Through investigating representations of marriage between speakers of American Stuttering English (ASE) and American Fluent English (AFE) in the U.S., I examine how social actors actively suppress, or erase, the race-gender nexus in their social projects of constructing the family as an ideal.  I conceptualize these marriages as a kind of linguistic exogamy, or marriage between two linguistically-distinct groups.  This presentation uses a discourse-centered approach to kinship by analyzing two texts taken from newsletters by the “Caring Group for Stutterers,” one of the first groups in the American English Stuttering Speech Community.  I argue that, in these written texts, AFE spouses use particular linguistic resources to construct and negotiate a moral and replicable subject position from which to speak, given their different linguistic and communicative competencies.  The data show that the project of constructing the family and moral responsibilities of an AFE “partner” relies on the erasure of race, foremost, and gender, to a partial degree.  This presentation forefronts how social actors perform this erasure and how it operates in the construction of a non-gendered and non-racialized ‘moral’ spouse.