Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Primary Theme: Materiality
Secondary Theme: Technology
This panel investigates the agentive capacities of mediating artifacts in varied cultural and linguistic contexts. The presuppositions and entailments of certain discursive practices seem or are taken to be inherent in objects or events themselves, such as radios, social depiction to social movement, or musical performances. How do artifacts come to act as semiotic apertures between publics, dynamically figurate otherwise unrelated texts, or seem to form cultures of incommensurability themselves? What are the deterministic interplays between artifacts, the publics they mediate, and the discursive practices they inhabit? With these questions in mind, we offer social-semiotic analyses centered on material objects and their events as they relate to their interlocutors. Our papers concern media projects promoting Yucatec Maya language and identity, material ephemera organizing a social movement culture archive, a prestigious concert where grade-school and professional orchestral musicians combine to sound “healthy publics,” and sundry ritual paraphernalia which decisively order the serenity of the K’iche’ Maya cosmos. While our ethnographic foci are diverse, they are united by their attention to the semiotic mediation of social action. Our papers offer insight into the possibilities and constraints of material mediation more widely considered, and to the linguistic-anthropological methods employed to illuminate peoples’ interactions with such artifacts.