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Abstract

This review surveys recent research on language-music: the unified expressive field comprising sounded and textual signs whose segmentation into “language” and “music” is culturally constructed. I argue that approaching language-music semiotically will promote—alongside the discipline's emergent “auditory turn”—greater holism in anthropological practice if coupled to the joint effort of attending to textuality while decentering its primacy. I discuss recent scholarship that demonstrates, if often implicitly, the merit of this approach. I organize this work into three overlapping themes of active research: scholarship on chronotopes and soundscapes exploring processes that reconfigure time and place; work on subject creation focusing on voice, emotion, intersubjectivity, and listening; and scholarship on the social dimensions of object creation, including technological mediation, authentication, and circulation. I conclude by discussing future directions in research on language-music and the promise such work offers of furthering the call to broaden anthropology's holism while loosening adherence to its text-centered practices.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-anthro-092611-145851
2012-10-21
2024-06-18
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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