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The Spoken House: Text, Act, and Object in Eastern Indonesia

Webb Keane
American Ethnologist
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Feb., 1995), pp. 102-124
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/646048
Page Count: 23
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The Spoken House: Text, Act, and Object in Eastern Indonesia
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Abstract

Sumbanese descriptions of the "traditional house" as a microcosm and emblem of local identity are neither unproblematic expressions of a cultural totality nor simply objectifications imposed by ethnography or modernity. One way the house is able to serve as a discursive object reflects, in part, specifically Sumbanese models of action and beliefs about language as refracted in changing historical circumstances. In ritual, speakers seek to engage and elicit responses from powerful others, whereas current religious and political developments reframe ritual words as means of describing a cultural world. Both sets of practices draw on the authority of "entextualized" language but interpret it in different ways. Emerging representations of cultural meaning are shaped by long-standing speech genres and by recent social and cultural transformations, mediated by shifting language ideologies. [culture theory, representation, discourse, ritual speech, language ideology, house, Indonesia]

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