We Share Walls: Language, Land, and Gender in Berber Morocco / Edition 1

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We Share Walls: Language, Land, and Gender in Berber Morocco explores how political economic shifts over the last century have reshaped the language practices and ideologies of women (and men) in the plains and mountains of rural Morocco.

  • Offers a unique and richly textured ethnography of language maintenance and shift as well as language and place-making among an overlooked Muslim group
  • Examines how Moroccan Berbers use language to integrate into the Arab-speaking world and retain their own distinct identity
  • Illuminates the intriguing semiotic and gender issues embedded in the culture
  • Part of the Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture Series
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In vivid prose, this breakthrough book portrays how Morocco’s Berber women and men – in remote villages and towns, on radio, and in schools – use language as a key element to shape how they ‘belong’ in Moroccan society today and in the process reshape the idea of ‘center’ and ‘periphery’.”
Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College

“Katherine Hoffman is a gifted ethnographer and her nuanced account of language, gender, poetry, and place in Berber Morocco resonates with the rich sensory texture of lived experience. Her chapter on radio is alone worth the price of admission – a pioneering work of media ethnography in linguistic anthropology.”
Richard Bauman, Indiana University

“With compassion and intellectual acuity, Hoffman’s study of the Berber-speaking Ishelhin of Southern Morocco evokes a society where the spoken word has molded a deep attachment to place. Her observations glow with the intensity of lived experience, distilled from a total immersion in the land, language, and people of this remote region. Using speech, poetry, and song as keys to understanding social process, We Share Walls represents a major contribution to contemporary Moroccan Studies and to the wider field of ethnolinguistics.”
Susan Gilson Miller, Harvard University

"A beautiful and deeply researched ethnography that elucidates how performance genres like talk, song, and poetry create a sense of place and a particularly Berber (and gendered) response to modernity."
Deborah Kapchan, The Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

"A richly detailed study of the changing politics of language in Morocco. Hoffman deftly shows how Berber women's everyday labour keeps alive the homeland and mother tongue that are the charged objects of migrant men's nostalgia and identity. This is linguistic anthropology at its best, and broadest."
Lila Abu-Lughod, Columbia University

“At last we have an account of Berber Morocco that probes space, culture and people in a highly sensitive and eloquent style. Hoffman brings to the forefront a long marginalised language and an almost forgotten community. This is indeed ethnography at its best. Readers will be inspired by the breadth and depth of Hoffman’s treatment.”
Enam Al-Wer, University of Essex

“An excellent in-depth study of the gender and language dynamics in Berber communities. A highly readable and timely addition to the emerging and promising scholarship on language, gender and women in Morocco.”
Fatima Sadiqi, Harvard University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Katherine E. Hoffman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Northwestern University. Her focus is on linguistic and sociocultural anthropology, ethnicity, indigenous people, and endangered languages. She has published articles in a range of journals, including American Ethnologist, Ethnomusicology, and the Journal of North African Studies.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures, Tables and Transcripts viii

Series Preface xi

Copyright Acknowledgments xiii

Note on Transcription and Transliteration xvii

Part I Prelude 1

1 Introduction: Staying Put 3

2 On Fieldwork Methods and Movements: “Song Is Good Speech” 31

Part II Dissonance: Gender 47

3 The Gender of Authenticity 49

Part III Consonance: Homeland 81

4 Building the Homeland: Labor, Roads, Emigration 83

5 Voicing the Homeland: Objectifi cation, Order, Displacement 110

Part IV Antiphony: Periphery 145

6 Transformation in the Sous Valley 147

7 Ishelhin into Arabs? Ethnolinguistic Differentiating Practices in the Periphery 164

Part V Resonance 193

8 Mediating the Countryside: Purists and Pundits on Tashelhit Radio 195

9 Conclusion 228

Notes 237

References 245

Index 257

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