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Semiotic Anthropology

Elizabeth Mertz
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 36 (2007), pp. 337-353
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25064959
Page Count: 17
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Abstract

From the 1970s through the present, semiotic anthropology has grown in importance but also has shifted its emphasis, in the process helping to push forward a more general change in the subfields of linguistic and sociocultural anthropology. This article explores that change from the vantage of each of these key subfields, arguing that core concepts of semiotic anthropology have permitted a new rapprochement between sociocultural and linguistic analyses-one which permits each to make better use of the insights of the other. It has also aided anthropologists in overcoming stale conceptual oppositions. Five specific points of contact are explored: (a) indexicality and social context; (b) metalinguistic structuring/linguistic ideology, pragmatics, and social interaction; (c) social power, history, and linguistic interaction; (d) agency, linguistic creativity, and "real time"; and (e) shifting sites, units of analysis, and methods.

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