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Language and Belonging

Local Categories and Practices in a Guatemalan Highland Community

by Rita Vallentin (Author)
Thesis XXIV, 296 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Transcription Convention
  • Abstract
  • Zusammenfassung
  • Resumo
  • 1. Introduction
  • 1.1. Belonging and Language Use in Current Research
  • 1.2. Empirical Foundations: The Comunidad Nueva Alianza and its Story.
  • 1.3. Outline of the Book
  • 2. Belonging and Identification
  • 2.1. Making Sense of Ourselves and Others
  • 2.2. Processes of Identification
  • 2.3. Personal and Social Identification
  • 2.4. Social Identification and Groups
  • 2.5. From Social Positioning to Belonging
  • 2.6. Concepts of Belonging
  • 2.6.1. Spatial Belonging
  • 2.6.2. Social Belonging
  • 2.6.2.1 Intersected Belonging: Social Location and Social Positionality
  • 2.6.2.2 Regimes of Social Belonging
  • 2.6.3. Temporal Belonging
  • 2.7. Conclusion: Conceptualization of Belonging
  • 3. Doing Belonging
  • 3.1. Language and Belonging
  • 3.2. The Practice Approach in Contemporary Linguistics and Social Sciences
  • 3.3. Doing Belonging
  • 3.4. Communities of Practice
  • 3.5. Interim Conclusion
  • 4. Tracing Belonging in Spoken Data
  • 4.1. Membership Categorization and Conversation Analysis
  • 4.2. Positioning
  • 4.3. Narrative as Practice
  • 4.3.1. Narrative and Belonging
  • 4.3.2. Positioning in Narrative
  • 4.4. Interim Conclusion – What to Do with the Data?
  • 5. Data Collection and Processing
  • 5.1. The Field
  • 5.1.1. Population
  • 5.1.2. Location and Structure
  • 5.1.3. Organization and Projects
  • 5.2. Accessing the Field
  • 5.3. The Researcher as an Outsider Participant
  • 5.4. The Corpus
  • 5.4.1. Narrative Accounts from Semi-structured Interviews
  • 5.4.2. Narratives for Visitors
  • 5.4.3. Interactions with Outsiders
  • 5.4.4. Community Interactions
  • 5.4.5. Fieldnotes
  • 5.5. Data Transcription and Selection
  • 6. Belonging as a Local and Interactional Problem
  • 6.1. The Setting
  • 6.2. Problematizing the Term Étnico
  • 6.3. Adding Language as a Relevant Category
  • 6.4. Processing the Étnico Question
  • 6.5. Processing the Language Question
  • 6.6. Clashing Category Systems
  • 6.7. Interactional Positions
  • 6.8. Interim Conclusion: Belonging as a Local and Interactional Problem
  • 7. Narrating as a Local Practice of Belonging
  • 7.1. The Narrative Corpus
  • 7.2. Types of Narrations and Types of Narrators
  • 7.3. Stories by Practiced Narrators
  • 7.3.1. Positioning as Narrative Experts
  • 7.3.1.1 Navigating Interactional Context and Story Structure
  • 7.3.1.2 Displaying Expert Knowledge: Chronology and Detail
  • 7.3.2. Positioning Own and Other Voices
  • 7.3.2.1 Speaking on Behalf of the Community
  • 7.3.2.2 Different Voices
  • 7.3.3. Interim Conclusion: Stories by Practiced Narrators
  • 7.4. Spontaneous Narratives
  • 7.4.1. Positioning the Narrated Self
  • 7.4.2. Interim Conclusion: Spontaneous Narratives
  • 7.5. Re-Narrated Stories
  • 7.5.1. ‘It says’ – The Story as Community Knowledge
  • 7.5.2. ‘There is’ – Generalization in Re-Narration
  • 7.5.3. ‘We were workers’ – We-voices in Re-Narrations
  • 7.5.4. Interim Conclusion: Re-Narrated Stories
  • 7.6. One Story – Thirty Versions – Shared Core Elements
  • 7.7. Interim Conclusion: Narrating as a Local Practice of Belonging
  • 8. Excursus
  • 8.1. Excursus I: Grounding Belonging in the Local Adverb aquí
  • 8.2. Excursus II: Regimes of Belonging
  • 9. Summary and Discussion
  • 10. Conclusion and Prospects
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix
  • A. Speaker Table
  • B. Interview Questionnaire
  • Series index

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List of Tables

1 Sample of Narrative Accounts from Interviews

2 Types of Narratives and Speakers

3 Narrative Classification Based on Use of Pronouns and Verb Forms

4 Occurrences of aquí in the Interview Corpus

5 Occurrences of acá in the Interview Corpus

6 Speakers in the Corpus

| xv →

List of Figures

1 Simple Map of the Nueva Alianza

2 Relations of the Community and the Company

3 Speaker and Topic Orientation in Extract 1

4 Category System of the Trainer for the “Ethnic Group”

5 Speaker and Topic Orientation in Extract 2

6 Speaker and Topic Orientation in Extract 3

7 Speaker and Topic Orientation in Extract 5

8 Narrative Structure JavierI

9 Narrative Structure JavierJV

10 Narrative Structure CarlosI

11 Narrative Structure CarlosYG

12 Narrative Structure Maria

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Transcription Convention

| xix →

Abstract

This book is an inquiry into the concept of belonging and its relation to language use. The empirical focus lies on a Guatemalan rural community and how its members achieve belonging in interaction. The concept of belonging is defined first as the spatial, social and temporal categories that speakers use to attribute themselves and others to. Second, belonging is conceptualized as encompassing specific practices that are distinctive to a community and that index belonging with it. These practices are shared by group members, and together with the categorical attributions often determine who can belong and who cannot. The analysis is based on data collected in 2009 and 2011 during four months of ethnographic research. The corpus combines two broad types of spoken data: first, narratives on the community’s transformation in semi-structured interviews and for visiting tourists; and second, other community interactions with visiting outsiders and amongst group members. The analysis of these interactions follows the methodological considerations developed in membership categorization, ethnographically informed conversation analysis and positioning theory. The findings suggest that “place” is pivotal in grounding belonging, emphasizing collectivity and tracing a temporal trajectory that connects group members’ “origin” to that place. The analysis of the narrative corpus reveals shared elements in the individual narrations of the community story. Narrating the community’s story in this way points to the participants’ shared experiences and knowledge, and thereby consolidates belonging with the community through engaging in this language-based practice. This book, thus, offers a new theoretical approach to the concept of belonging and its relation to language use. Furthermore, it offers a holistic analysis of the community’s belonging as it is achieved in interactions with different outsiders.

| xxi →

Zusammenfassung

Die Arbeit befasst sich empirisch und theoretisch mit dem Konzept der Zugehörigkeit und seiner Verankerung im Sprachgebrauch. Die theoretischen Überlegungen stützen sich auf sprachliche Daten aus einer guatemaltekischen ländlichen Gemeinschaft, in denen Zugehörigkeiten hergestellt und verhandelt werden. Zugehörigkeit wird hier zum einen als sprachlich hervorgebrachte räumliche, soziale und zeitliche Kategorien, mit denen die Sprecher*innen Selbst- und Fremdzuordnungen vornehmen definiert. Zum anderen wird Zugehörigkeit über die Ausübung bestimmter geteilter Praktiken gefasst, die für Gemeinschaften spezifisch sind. Durch die Teilhabe an gemeinsamen Praktiken und durch sprachliche Kategorisierungen können Sprecher*innen ausdrücken, wer dazugehört und wer nicht. Die Arbeit liefert damit einen Beitrag zu einer überindividuellen Analyse von Zugehörigkeiten im Kontext des Sprachgebrauchs indem sie auch kollektiv orientierte Zusammengehörigkeit in den Blick nimmt.

Die Analyse basiert auf einem sprachlichen Korpus, der 2009 und 2011 in viermonatiger ethnographischer Feldforschung in einer ländlichen comunidad in Guatemala gesammelt wurde. Der Gemeinschaft gelang Anfang der 2000er Jahre eine Transformation, von einer Kaffee- und Macadamiaplantage in Großgrundbesitz zu einem selbstverwalteten und demokratisch organisierten Agrarbetrieb mit dörflichen Strukturen. Das Korpus besteht aus zwei Datentypen: zum einen aus Narrativen über den Wandel in der Gemeinschaft, die für Besucher und in semi-strukturierten Interviews erzählt werden. Zum anderen umfasst das Korpus Interaktionen der Gemeinschaftsmitglieder unter sich und mit Besuchern von außerhalb. Diese sprachlichen Daten werden mittels der membership categorization analysis (MCA), einer ethnographisch informierten Konversationsanalyse und einer Positionierungsanalyse ausgewertet. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass ein Bezug zur Räumlichkeit als zentrale Zugehörigkeitsdimension von den Sprecher*innen relevant gesetzt wird. Dies ist insbesondere in der vorwiegend durch ethnische Zugehörigkeiten geprägten ländlichen Region Guatemalas bemerkenswert. Die Verbindung zum Raum bestimmt auch die soziale Zugehörigkeit. Erst eine über eine bestimmte Zeit aufgebaute Beziehung zu dem Raum, macht auch die Zugehörigkeit zur Gruppe möglich. Geteilte sprachliche Praktiken zeigen sich in meinem Korpus vor allem in den Narrativen der Bewohner*innen über die Zeit der Transformation. Die Anordnung und Verwendung bestimmter erzählerischer Elemente sowie gleiche oder ähnliche ← xxi | xxii → Kategorisierungen und Positionierungen in jedem der Narrative verweisen auf geteiltes Wissen und geteilte Erfahrungen der Sprecher*innen. So markiert das Erzählen der Geschichte die Zusammengehörigkeit mit einer spezifischen community of practice. Die Arbeit bietet eine umfassende theoretische Fundierung des Konzepts der Zugehörigkeit und Zusammengehörigkeit, die grundlegend durch deren sprachliche und interaktive Herstellung in der Empirie gestützt ist.

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Resumo

Este livro é uma investigação sobre o conceito de pertencimento e sua relação com o uso da linguagem. A pesquisa empírica centra-se na realização interacional de pertencimento em uma comunidade rural guatemalteca. O conceito de pertencimento é definido, em primeiro lugar, como as categorias espaciais, sociais e temporais que os falantes usam para atribuir a si mesmos e a outros (“belonging to”). Em segundo lugar, o pertencimento é considerado como práticas específicas que são distintivas para uma comunidade e que indicam pertencer à mesma comunidade (“belonging with”). Essas práticas são compartilhadas em todo o grupo e, juntamente com as atribuições categóricas, muitas vezes determinam quem pode pertencer a ele e quem não pode. O corpus foi coletado entre 2009 e 2011 em quatro meses de pesquisa etnográfica. Ele combina narrativas sobre a transformação da comunidade coletadas em entrevistas semi-estruturadas, em narrativas para turistas, bem como interações entre seus próprios membros. A análise das interações baseia-se nas premissas da categorização de pertencimento (MCA), análise da conversa etnograficamente informada (“ethnographically informed conversation analysis”) e análise do posicionamento discursivo. Os resultados mostram uma relevância crucial da categoria de “lugar” em relação com a “origem”, a importância de coletividade e a conexão entre o local e o grupo numa trajetória ao longo do tempo nas enunciações dos participantes. A análise das narrações mostra elementos compartilhados nos relatos individuais sobre a história da comunidade. A relevância das categorias de outras interações é repetida nesses relatos. Narrá-los desta forma aponta para experiências compartilhadas o conhecimento dos participantes e, assim, para uma consolidação do pertencimento à comunidade (“belonging with”) através do envolvimento nesta prática baseada em linguagem. Este livro, portanto, oferece uma nova abordagem teórica sobre o conceito de pertencimento e sua relação com a linguagem. Além disso, segue um viés analítico holístico sobre o pertencimento de uma comunidade, estabelecido em várias interações com diferentes interlocutores não pertencentes à comunidade.

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1. Introduction

It was a damp morning during the summer of 2009 in Guatemala when Lola1 climbed up a steep path with her eldest daughter and myself to collect ripe macadamia nuts from her small parcel of land. During a short break, and with a view over the community houses, smoke billowing from their hearths, she points to a small piece of land where the cemetery lies. She tells me that her grandparents are buried there because they were born ‘here’, that her father is buried there as he was also born ‘here’ and that, one day, she too will be buried in the very same cemetery because aquí nací y aquí voy a morir ‘I was born here and here I’m going to die’. As unanticipated as LOA’s articulation of life and death that morning on our way to work was, it was deeply revealing regarding her understanding of local attachment through the trajectory of generations. It pointed to a specific spatially bound conceptualization of belonging.

Summary

In this book, the author introduces belonging from a sociolinguistic perspective as a concept that is accomplished in interaction. Belonging can be expressed linguistically in social, spatial and temporal categories – indexing rootedness, groupness and cohesion. It can also be captured through shared linguistic practices within a group, e.g. collectively shared narrative practices. Using conversation analysis and an analysis of narrative as practice bolstered with ethnographic knowledge, the author shows how belonging is tied to locally contextualized use of deictics and to collectively shared narrations of the past in a Guatemalan community. The book examines the understudied phenomenon of belonging at the intersection of pragmatics and linguistic anthropology.

Details

Pages
XXIV, 296
ISBN (PDF)
9783631768921
ISBN (ePUB)
9783631768938
ISBN (MOBI)
9783631768945
ISBN (Book)
9783631735602
Language
English
Publication date
2019 (October)
Tags
conversation analysis linguistic anthropology narrative analysis socio-linguistics pragmatics community of practice
Published
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. XXIV, 296 pp., 2 fig. col., 10 fig. b/w, 6 tables

Biographical notes

Rita Vallentin (Author)

Rita Vallentin is a researcher and lecturer at the Faculty of Cultural and Social Sciences of the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder). Working at the intersection of linguistics and sociology, she focuses on the relations of belonging and identification with linguistic practices, especially in Hispanophone and Lusophone communities.

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