Signs of Diaspora Diaspora of Signs: Literacies, Creolization, and Vernacular Practice in African America

Overview

Challenging monolithic approaches to culture and literacy, this book looks at the roots of African-American reading and writing from the perspective of vernacular activities and creolization. It shows that African-Americans, while readily mastering the conventions and canons of Euro-America, also drew on knowledge of their own to make an oppositional repertoire of signs and meanings. Distinct from conventional script literacy on the one hand, and oral culture on the other, these "creolized" vernacular practices ...

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Overview

Challenging monolithic approaches to culture and literacy, this book looks at the roots of African-American reading and writing from the perspective of vernacular activities and creolization. It shows that African-Americans, while readily mastering the conventions and canons of Euro-America, also drew on knowledge of their own to make an oppositional repertoire of signs and meanings. Distinct from conventional script literacy on the one hand, and oral culture on the other, these "creolized" vernacular practices include writing in charms, use of personal or nondecodable scripts, the strategic renunciation of reading and writing as communicative tools, and writing that is linked to divination, trance, and possession. Based on extensive ethnographic research in the Southeastern United States and the West Indies, Gundaker offers a complex portrait of the intersection of "outsider" conventions with "insider" knowledge and practice.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: "Conventional" Literacy and "Vernacular" Practice 3
2 Creolization, Double Voicing, Double Vision 15
3 African Scripts, Graphic Practices, and Contexts of Learning and Use 33
4 Diaspora of Signs: A Transatlantic Network 63
5 Narratives of Literacy Acquisition and Use 95
6 Alternative Modes of Participation with Text and Artifacts of Literacy 123
7 Contrasting and Complementary Scripts and Graphic Signs 163
Notes 201
References 237
Index 279
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