Defiant Discourse : Speech and Action in Grassroots Activism book cover
1st Edition

Defiant Discourse
Speech and Action in Grassroots Activism

ISBN 9781138895737
Published October 30, 2020 by Routledge
210 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In this timely and innovative book, Tamar Katriel takes a language and discourse-centred approach to the subject of peace activism in Israel-Palestine, one of the most significant political issues of our time, while also posing more general questions about the role played by language in activist movements – how activists themselves conceptualize their speech and its relationship to action.

Viewing activism as a globalized cultural formation that gives shape and meaning to grassroots organizations' struggles for political change, this book explores the relations between the cultural categories of speech and action as constructed and evaluated in activist contexts. It focuses on the specific empirical field of defiant discourse associated with the soldierly role in Israeli culture, using it to offer an in-depth exploration of the cultural underpinnings of defiant speech. Katriel interrogates discourse-centered activism as part of social movements' action repertoires on the one hand, and of the local cultural construction of speech cultures on the other.

This is critical reading for all students and scholars studying activism and social movements within linguistics, Middle Eastern studies, peace studies, and communication studies.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Contextualizing the study

Chapter 3: Proclaiming dissent

Chapter 4: Witnessing

Chapter 5: Accounting for dissent

Chapter 6: Conclusion


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Tamar Katriel is Professor (Emerita) at the University of Haifa, conducting research in the Ethnography of Communication. She is author of Talking Straight (1986); Communal Webs (1991); Performing the Past (1997); Dialogic Moments (2004), a collection of articles in Hebrew Milot Mafte'ach [Keywords] (1999), and a range of articles in journals and book collections. In recent years, her research has focused on grassroots activism and its commemoration, and she co-edited a collection of articles titled Cultural Memories of Nonviolent Struggles (2015).


In Defiant Discourse Katriel unpacks the complex relationship between speech and action in a case study of anti-war activists in Israel. Along the way she gives us an emotionally powerful textual ethnography, a mini-history of Israeli politics, and a theoretically engaging account of the ways speech is and is not action.

Karen Tracy, University of Colorado, USA