Hallie Wells “I am not the master of the path, but the one who continues it”: Political implications of speech-as-path metaphors in Malagasy oratory

Hallie Wells will be presenting her paper “I am not the master of the path, but the one who continues it”: Political implications of speech-as-path metaphors in Malagasy oratory 


This chapter examines points of agreement and contention on kabary (Malagasy oratory), particularly concerning kabary's impact on political discourse and social life more broadly. While scholars agree that kabary is a highly formalized genre, there is disagreement on the extent to which this formalization inhibits decision-making, individual creativity, and resistance to authority. Rather than arguing for or against kabary as enabling resistance, this chapter attends to language ideologies expressed in kabary in the form of metaphors of speech as a path and of tsiny (the reproaches of the ancestors and of one's community) as an obstacle in that path. This analysis illuminates the role of risk, responsibility, and the "management" of individual freedom in public speech, so that we may attend to the categories of kabary itself rather than imposing pre-defined notions of democracy and authoritarianism.


Please email Julia Sizek (jsizek@berkeley.edu) or Max Waterman (maxfield.waterman@berkeley.edu) to RSVP and recieve the paper by April 19. 

Event details
Friday, April 21, 2017 - 3:00pm - 5:03pm
Room 15, 2224 Piedmont