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Book Series


Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture

Linguistic anthropology evolved in the 20th century in an environment that tended to reify language and culture. A recognition of the dynamics of discourse as a sociocultural process has since emerged as researchers have used new methods and theories to examine the reproduction and transformation of people, institutions, and communities through linguistic practices. This transformation of linguistic anthropology itself heralds a new era for publishing as well. Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture aims to represent and foster this new approach to discourse and culture by producing books that focus on the dynamics that can be obscured by such broad and diffuse terms as “language.” This series is committed to the ethnographic approach to language and discourse: ethnographic works deeply informed by theory, as well as more theoretical works that are deeply grounded in ethnography. The books are aimed at scholars in the sociology and anthropology of language, anthropological linguistics, sociolinguistics and socioculturally informed psycholinguistics. It is our hope that all books in the series will be widely adopted for a variety of courses. Authors with new book proposals are welcome to send them to the series editor, Jim Wilce ( For more information, enter the following in your browser:

Click here for guidelines to help you prepare and submit an abstract of your book project to the series editor.


Series Books

The Hidden Life of Girls: Games of Stance, Status, and Exclusion, Marjorie Harness Goodwin, 2006 (Winner of the Best Book of 2008 from The International Gender and Language Association)

In this ground-breaking ethnography of girls on a playground, Goodwin offers a window into their complex social worlds.

  • Combats stereotypes that have dominated theories on female moral development by challenging the notion that girls are inherently supportive of each other
  • Examines the stances that girls on a playground in a multicultural school setting assume and shows how they position themselves in their peer groups
    Documents the language practices and degradation rituals used to sanction friends and to bully others

"It is impressive how Goodwin entwines an enormous breadth of literature from anthropology, sociology, education and linguistics into a systematic and persuasive explication of the linguistic and social practices recorded.... Highly recommendable." (Discourse & Society, May 2008)
” The book offers both rich and rigorous ways of looking at children's naturally situated conduct that speak(s) to larger concerns of social science research.” "It is clearly of great value to students of language and social interaction, interpersonal communication scholars, and researchers concerned with the development of communication competence or with group processes…” (International Journal of Communication)

"This book is a gold-mine. It is a rich source of data for anyone who is interested in how embodiment actually works in practice and who needs to understand, therefore, how social categories are not pre-existing structures." (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, December 2008)

"Goodwin has offered scholars an innovative, interdisciplinary and very meticulously articulated piece of work." (Journal of Sociolinguistics, November 2008)

“A powerful [and] provocative read… Highly recommended” (Choice)
“Hidden Life develops into an engrossing read … .One of Hidden Life’s strengths is Goodwin’s diverse sample of Latino, Asian, African American, and Caucasian girls.” (Feminist Collections)
“Rich analysis … .Full of rich and diverse data … and important policy recommendations. Shines a bright light on the complexity … of preadolescent girls.” (Sex Roles)


We Share Walls: Language, Land, and Gender in Berber Morocco, Katherine E. Hoffman, 2008

We Share Walls: Language, Land, and Gender in Berber Morocco explores how political economic shifts over the last century have reshaped the language practices and ideologies of women (and men) in the plains and mountains of rural Morocco.

* Offers a unique and richly textured ethnography of language maintenance and shift as well as language and place-making among an overlooked Muslim group

* Examines how Moroccan Berbers use language to integrate into the Arab-speaking world and retain their own distinct identity

* Illuminates the intriguing semiotic and gender issues embedded in the culture

"In vivid prose, this breakthrough book portrays how Morocco's Berber women and men - in remote villages and towns, on radio, and in schools - use language as a key element to shape how they 'belong' in Moroccan society today and in the process reshape the idea of 'center' and 'periphery'."
Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College

"Katherine Hoffman is a gifted ethnographer and her nuanced account of language, gender, poetry, and place in Berber Morocco resonates with the rich sensory texture of lived experience. Her chapter on radio is alone worth the price of admission - a pioneering work of media ethnography in linguistic anthropology."
Richard Bauman, Indiana University

"With compassion and intellectual acuity, Hoffman's study of the Berber-speaking Ishelhin of Southern Morocco evokes a society where the spoken word has molded a deep attachment to place. Her observations glow with the intensity of lived experience, distilled from a total immersion in the land, language, and people of this remote region. Using speech, poetry, and song as keys to understanding social process, We Share Walls represents a major contribution to contemporary Moroccan Studies and to the wider field of ethnolinguistics."
Susan Gilson Miller, Harvard University

"A beautiful and deeply researched ethnography that elucidates how performance genres like talk, song, and poetry create a sense of place and a particularly Berber (and gendered) response to modernity."
Deborah Kapchan, The Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

"A richly detailed study of the changing politics of language in Morocco. Hoffman deftly shows how Berber women's everyday labour keeps alive the homeland and mother tongue that are the charged objects of migrant men's nostalgia and identity. This is linguistic anthropology at its best, and broadest."
Lila Abu-Lughod, Columbia University

"At last we have an account of Berber Morocco that probes space, culture and people in a highly sensitive and eloquent style. Hoffman brings to the forefront a long marginalised language and an almost forgotten community. This is indeed ethnography at its best. Readers will be inspired by the breadth and depth of Hoffman's treatment."
Enam Al-Wer, University of Essex

"An excellent in-depth study of the gender and language dynamics in Berber communities. A highly readable and timely addition to the emerging and promising scholarship on language, gender and women in Morocco."
Fatima Sadiqi, Harvard University


Series Editor's Preface

            Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture was launched in 2005. Although Katherine Hoffman’s We Share Walls is the second volume in the series, it is the first that I have been able to present.
            The series debuted with a call for volumes that would foreground the dynamics of discourse by illuminating issues such as:

  • the global and local dynamics of the production, reception, circulation, and contextualization of discourse;
  • the discursive production of social collectivities;
  • the dynamic relation of speech acts to agents, social roles, and identities;
  • the emergent relation of ideologies to linguistic structure and the social lives of linguistic forms; and
  • the dialectic relations of local speech events to larger social formations and centers of power.

The series is committed to the ethnographic approach to language and discourse, and to ethnographic works deeply informed by theory. We Share Walls is just such a work, illuminating precisely the issues outlined in the call.
            As Hoffman explains in the first chapter, her title derives from one of the performance forms that helps to constitute Ashelhi social life—a particular tazrrart or ‘sung poem’ about “sharing boundaries” and “being one.”  The original poem is particularly apt as a source for the title, for it expresses the effort—part of which is expended in the very performance of such expressive forms— that “being one” entails. The agents Hoffman describes, including the poet in this case, are often Ishelhin women—singing, socializing their children, defying stereotypes by living their Tashelhit-speaking lives even in the Sous plains, and actively consuming media (radio in particular) while producing intelligent commentary thereupon.
            Katherine Hoffman is an ethnographer’s ethnographer. Spending three and a half years in the field (unusual for a dissertation project) has yielded a remarkable richness, with many layers to every experience, many methods to support every claim, many sites to illustrate each tendency, and three relevant field languages—Tashelhit, Arabic, and French—on which she draws to lend each translation its nuance. We find here both self-deprecating self-reflexivity and documentation of the reflexivity of Tashelhit actors busily engaged in producing goods for circulation. Included in these are, of course, goods such as Modern Standard Tashelhit or MST. Though the actors here, producing their neologisms, are mostly elite urban radio personalities far removed from those with whom Hoffman spent most of her time in the mountains and on the plains, we should not think that the latter groups labored only to produce subsistence goods. Hoffman demonstrates again and again that ordinary women and men are the crucial producers and circulators of the genres in which Tashelhit has its life.
            Each time we follow Hoffman, we meet with surprise… whether we accompany her on the discursive pathways that trace Ashelhi identity and the purity of the Tashelhit language to the mountain homeland or tamazirt, or we squeeze with her into a crowded taxi whose passengers—including the author—debate gendered visions of responsibility for various threats to Tashelhit, or we land in the midst of parties in the mountains or wedding songfests in the plains, or we listen in as urban Ashelhi radio personalities surprise some listeners with the latest MST coinage. The surprises result from the very things that make this book a fine exemplar of the series—Hoffman’s constant attention to the dynamics of social, cultural, and linguistic processes. Thus for example, the tamazirt is built, and gendered—and Tashelhit preserved—through performance, which Hoffman envisions as combining “manual labor practices alongside discursive practices” (compare Irvine 1989 on Wolof griots). The surprises in Hoffman’s account of the informal party in chapter three are several—it’s a mixed-sex gathering of unmarried adolescents in which, as Hoffman puts it, “rural and (returned) urban youths fashion each other” by exchanging the symbolic goods associated with mountain and city life. In this and many other ways Hoffman enriches us. Given the manifold forms of active engagement Ishelhin have with Tashelhit ways of speaking, We Share Walls is a unique contribution on many fronts, telling complex stories about culture and metaculture, gender, performance, language shift and maintenance.
         Thus, it gives me great pleasure to introduce this exquisite ethnography, and with it, Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture.



The Everyday Language of White Racism, Jane H. Hill, 2008

In The Everyday Language of White Racism, Jane H. Hill provides an incisive analysis of everyday language to reveal the underlying racist stereotypes that continue to circulate in American culture.

  • provides a detailed background on the theory of race and racism
  • reveals how racializing discourse—talk and text that produces and reproduces ideas about races and assigns people to them—facilitates a victim-blaming logic
  • integrates a broad and interdisciplinary range of literature from sociology, social psychology, justice studies, critical legal studies, philosophy, literature, and other disciplines that have studied racism, as well as material from anthropology and sociolinguistics

"Resonating far beyond its focus on the US, this is a lucid, compelling, committed and highly original account of the fundamental aspects of routine language that help racism thrive amidst its everyday denial."
–Professor Ben Rampton, King's College London
"The Everyday Language of White Racism is an extremely important book. Jane Hill raises readers' awareness for the potential danger which confronts all of us; i.e. that 'race' and racially based practices which are frequently expressed in indirect and covert ways would become part of common sense and thus essentialized. This is also a very timely book because it points us to the many instances in everyday life where discrimination still occurs and proposes ways how to challenge social exclusion."
–Ruth Wodak, Distinguished Professor of Discourse Studies, Lancaster University

"Hill's academic credentials give her the authority to write this disquieting book. The care she uses to make her case will compel even skeptics to reconsider the way they speak about other people."
–Otto Santa Ana, University of California, Los Angeles

"For the many Americans who believe that racism is on the decline in the contemporary United States, The Everyday Language of White Racism will be both eye-opening and thought-provoking. Challenging the commonsense belief that racism is rooted in individual, intentional feelings of hatred or prejudice, Jane Hill shows that racism is produced through language in which racist stereotypes circulate, whether deliberately, unwittingly, or somewhere in between. Hill’s magisterial command of a wide range of scholarship provides rich theoretical and political context for her acute analyses of racist language in the media, public discourse, and private talk. The result is an engaging and important discussion of the enduring yet often invisible presence of racism in American daily life."
–Mary Bucholtz, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

Series Editor's Preface

            Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture was launched in 2005, committed to publishing new titles with an ethnographic approach to language and discourse, and ethnographic works deeply informed by theory. Jane Hill’s The Everyday Language of White Racism is just such a work, a stellar contribution, illuminating precisely the issues outlined in the goals of the series.
The series books address issues such as:

  • the global and local dynamics of the production, reception, circulation, and contextualization of discourse;
  • the discursive production of social collectivities;
  • the dynamic relation of speech acts to agents, social roles, and identities;
  • the emergent relation of ideologies to linguistic structure and the social lives of linguistic forms; and
  • the dialectic relations of local speech events to larger social formations and centers of power.

Jane Hill brings to the series a background of enormous accomplishment in research, publication, teaching, and public service. A past President of the American Anthropological Association and currently Regents Professor at the University of Arizona, Hill has a unique ability to connect with, and make her work of clear relevance to, a very wide variety of audiences. As the most recent example of this widely acclaimed and groundbreaking work, Hill’s Everyday Language of White Racism will speak to students and scholars in sociology, political science, critical race theory, critical discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics, as well as anthropology. This book is the finest possible demonstration of the analytic power linguistic anthropologists bring to bear on issues of vital importance.
      Let me locate Hill’s book in relation to the series goals. As it turns out, the social collectivity known as “White Americans,” and the cultural category “Whiteness,” emerge in part out of the discourse practices Hill describes as part of “everyday language.” The everyday use of such forms as Mock Spanish, or impassioned web postings responding to a proposal to rename a small Arizona peak, reinscribe White privilege onto the discursive landscape. Critiquing the tendency in American public discourse to debate the intentions of individual speakers, Hill insists instead that we look at speech acts themselves, treating debates over intentionality as both a diversion and a manifestation of dominant ideologies. It is speech acts, not intentions, that cause insult and reproduce tacit notions of White virtue. Hill challenges a particular view of language and agency she calls the “personalist ideology,” which reduces questions of meaning to claims about the inner states of speakers. It is such ideologies, Hill demonstrates, that enable White producers of discourse to shield themselves from awareness of their participation in perpetuating racism. If one can claim to be innocent of racist intention, one’s words “should” be taken as non-racist. As Hill points out, the notion that we in effect own our words as individuals and control their meanings as speakers is profoundly connected with the grip that capitalism has on us, both as economic system and as ideology.
      Hill’s argument about the role of ideologies of language and self is what makes this book so revealing—and disturbing. So long as our consciousness is dominated by a “folk theory of race”—and the personalist and “referentialist” ideologies of language that define speech as strictly being about something (and particularly being about our “intentions”) rather than doing something (sustaining racism, causing insult and injury, etc.)—we feel virtuous even if on occasion we let slip a “gaffe.” (Freud, of course, treated such gaffes as revelations of our true selves.) In fact, many readers of this book will find it impossible to read themselves into the text, will disagree with Hill’s every argument—and in doing so, according to Hill, demonstrate their (our) enthrallment to the very ideologies she describes.
      As we work our way through this savvy and deeply challenging analysis, I hope we will respond with the level of engagement and careful reflection Hill herself invested in producing The Everyday Language of White Racism. Thus it is with great pleasure that I welcome this brilliant author, and volume, into Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture—and you (dear reader) into the dialogue.


Living Memory: The Social Aesthetics of Language in a Northern Italian Town, Jillian R. Cavanaugh, 2009

Living Memory investigates the complex question of language and its place at the heart of Bergamasco culture in northern Italy.
• Integrates extensive participant observation with sociolinguistic data collection
• Reveals the political and social dynamics of a national language (Italian) and a local dialect (Bergamasco) struggling for survival
• Introduces the original concept of the “social aesthetics of language”: the interweaving of culturally-shaped and emotionally felt dimensions of language-choice
• Written to be accessible to students and specialists alike

"An engaging study of the kinds of tensions and paradoxes that make so many minority language situations such nail biters: will conscious effort to revalorize a flagging vernacular strengthen it or kill it? Does highlighting the language’s cultural heritage revitalize it or turn it into an attractive but irrelevant museum piece? ‘Living Memory’ beautifully documents the complex and delicate situation of a stubborn Italian dialect. In doing so, it helps us understand the role language plays in contemporary debates about identity, belonging, citizenship and rapid social change."
–Don Kulick, author of Language Shift and Cultural Reproduction, University of Chicago
"Living Memory is a very solid piece of academic work on language maintenance, shift, linguistic ideologies and cultural dynamics in an Italian region and town. It makes a significant contribution to linguistic anthropology."
–Lukas D Tsitsipis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

"With empathetic eye and ear, Cavanaugh places Bergamo's committed "locophonophiles," lovers of speaking -- as well as eating -- locally, in the relevant contexts of the wider cultural politics of European and Italian regionalism at the turn-of-the-21st-century."
–Michael Silverstein, University of Chicago


Series Editor's Preface

Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture was launched in 2005, committed to publishing books whose ethnographic approach to language and discourse contributes to linguistic-anthropological theory. Jillian Cavanaugh’s Living Memory is just such a work. Cavanaugh’s profoundly engaging account illuminates precisely the issues outlined in the goals of the series: namely, to address issues such as:

  • the global and local dynamics of the production, reception, circulation, and contextualization of discourse;
  • the discursive production of social collectivities;
  • the dynamic relation of speech acts to agents, social roles, and identities;
  • the emergent relation of ideologies to linguistic structure and the social life of linguistic forms; and
  • the dialectical relations of local speech events to larger social formations and centers of power.

This book stands out as a remarkable contribution to our understanding of “the social aesthetics of language,” as the subtitle promises. It demonstrates the profound links between sentiment and structures of power, between feelings and the forces shaping social practice in general and speaking in particular. Few if any ethnographies so effectively map the intersection of emotion, practice, ideology and history. The uniqueness of Cavanaugh’s accomplishment involves her success at each of the following, and offering a breathtaking synthesis: 1) conveying the feel of speaking Bergamasco (a sense acquired through the intimacies of participant observation in, for example, performances of Bergamasco plays) and Italian, 2) analyzing contemporary tensions between the imagining of “pure” forms of Italian and Bergamasco (each purged of the other’s influence) and the actual practice of speaking in mixed forms, and 3) recounting the social history of ideologies — particularly ideologies of language, such as purism.

Thus, this work establishes Cavanaugh as a leading figure illuminating the social aesthetics of language, and particularly the triadic relationship of speaking and feeling in which language is recruited as a medium of emotional expression, an index of affectively valenced gender performance, and an object of emotional identification. The first is exemplified in local enthusiasts’ assertion that particular Bergamasco words are more “immediately expressive” than their Italian counterparts. The complexities of the second link desirability in the heterosexual marketplace to speaking Italian in the case of women, and Bergamasco in the case of men. The third involves nostalgia for the local code itself—  and its presumed impending loss. Paolo Frér, the poet/performer whose life and passing Cavanaugh movingly describes, could recruit Bergamasco as the perfect tool for expressing emotional attachment to place (Bergamo’s Città Alta), while his audience shouted their appreciation of the poet, his particular idiom, and the Bergamasco language more generally. Paolo exemplifies men’s duty to do what they can to ‘save Bergamasco.’ His audience’s appreciation, and widely circulating nostalgic assertions of the impending loss of Bergamasco, have— Cavanaugh shows us— arisen out of the history of Italian politics since the 1920s. National policy since the Fascist period has not simply adopted various means of suppressing “dialects” but has in effect contributed to their decline precisely, if paradoxically, through representing them as dying.

Happily, Cavanaugh exemplifies the complex relation of language(s) to feeling that is her subject. Hers is that rare work that combines careful and convincing intellectual argument about the double-faceted aesthetics of language described above with a style that helps readers— like Paolo’s audience— feel the place, the people, and what is at stake in the unfolding history. Cavanaugh’s accomplishment reflects the richness of data collected through diverse methods, effectively synthesized. The stories she tells seethe with feeling, but it is just as important that her writing brings this home to us so powerfully.

Thus Living Memory takes its place alongside its esteemed predecessors. To Cavanaugh, our thanks. To the reader, an invitation to encounter Bergamo with as much empathy as you can muster. Welcome to the world of discourse and culture as they meet in lived experience.


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