Speaking Through Silence & Erasure: Race, Sexuality, & Expression in Marginalized Language Communities

Presenter: 

"The Silence of Difference: Race, Sexuality, & Disability in Soviet Pantomime After Stalin," Anastasia Kayiatos, Slavic Literature & Languages

Presenter2: 

"Erasing the Race-Gender Nexus in Moral Discourses of Kinship: The American Stuttering English Speech Community as Case Study," Nathaniel W. Dumas, Anthropology

Date: 

Thu, Mar 18, 2010 - 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Location: 

691 Barrows Hall

SPEAKING THROUGH SILENCE & ERASURE: RACE, SEXUALITY, & EXPRESSION IN MARGINALIZED LANGUAGE COMMUNITIES

The Silence of Difference: Race, Sexuality, & Disability in Soviet Pantomime After Stalin
Anastasia Kayiatos, Slavic Literature & Languages

This paper considers the role of “full” speech in the fabrication of ideal Soviet subjectivity under late socialism; and the role of silence or vexed speech in coextensive constructions of alterity, especially for those “others” marked and marginalized by the linked categories of bodily difference: race, gender and disability.  To these ends, it looks at the silent pantomime performances staged by artistic avant-garde and “deaf-mute” subcultures in the early 1960s, in particular, ones that dramatize “blackness” or “Africanness,” in order to understand how specifically Soviet productions of race turned on the question of silence, and how the silence of speechlessness was in turn inflected by figurations of race and gender.

Erasing the Race-Gender Nexus in Moral Discourses of Kinship: The American Stuttering English Speech Community as Case Study
Nathaniel W. Dumas, Anthropology

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.

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