Article ID: CBB821012731

Linga’s Dream?: Interpreters, Entextualization, and Knowledge Production in Central Africa (2022)


Philip Janzen (Author)

American Historical Review
Volume: 127
Issue: 2
Pages: 755-785
Publication date: 2022
Language: English

This article is about a young farmer named Linga and his encounter with a water spirit in Oubangui-Chari (present-day Central African Republic) in 1930. It is also about the telling and re-telling of Linga’s encounter as the story was transcribed into Banda, translated into French, and rewritten as an ethnographic folktale. Responsible for these transformations were two Banda interpreters and a colonial administrator from the Caribbean. In the last two decades, historians of colonialism have turned increasingly to interpreters and other intermediaries. Often missing from this scholarship, however, are analyses of the granular details—of how colonial intermediaries used transcription, translation, and other methods to create new words, texts, and ideas. Linguistic anthropologists refer to such interventions as “entextualization,” the process by which fragments of discourse are extracted from their immediate settings and rendered into detached texts. Drawing on this scholarship, I argue that tracing the granular processes of entextualization opens up new vantage points from which to study the role of colonial intermediaries in the production of knowledge. The article also illuminates a methodology for mapping otherwise invisible constellations of language, meaning, and colonial power.

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Authors & Contributors
Edington, Claire Ellen
Monnais, Laurence
Aso, Michitake
Bennett, Tony
Bonnemain, Bruno
Dias, Nélia
History and Anthropology
Comparative Studies in Society and History
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Environment and History
Environmental History
French Colonial History
Columbia University
Cambridge University Press
France, colonies
Science and politics
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Travel; exploration
de Charlevoix, Pierre Francois Xavier
Linnaeus, Carolus
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William
Nickul, Karl
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
17th century
18th century
Early modern
Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro

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