Grassroots Literacy

Writing, Identity and Voice in Central Africa

By Jan Blommaert

© 2008 – Routledge

224 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415426305
pub: 2008-06-01
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Hardback: 9780415426312
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e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

What effect has globalization had on our understanding of literacy? Grassroots Literacy seeks to address the relationship between globalization and the widening gap between ‘grassroots’ literacies, or writings from ordinary people and local communities, and ‘elite’ literacies.

Displaced from their original context to elite literacy environments in the form of letters, police declarations and pieces of creative writing, ‘grassroots’ literacies are unsurprisingly easily disqualified, either as ‘bad’ forms of literacy, or as messages that fail to be understood. Through close analysis of two unique, handwritten documents from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jan Blommaert considers how ‘grassroots’ literacy in the Third World develops outside the literacy-saturated environments of the developed world. In examining these documents produced by socially and economically marginalized writers Blommaert demonstrates how literacy environments should be understood as relatively autonomous systems.

Grassroots Literacy will be key reading for students of language and literacy studies as well as an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in understanding the implications of globalization on local literacy practices.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface

PART 1: GRASSROOTS LITERACY

1. Introduction: Grassroots literacy and literacy regimes

1.1. Yes I can write

1.2. Writing

1.3. Grassroots literacy

1.4. Ethnographies of text

1.5. Globalization

PART 2: THE LIVES OF JULIEN

2. Three lives for Mrs Arens

2.1. Three versions of a life

2.2. Writing with an accent

2.3. Julien’s life: a storyline

2.4. Writing (as) a (way of) life

2.5. Context and pretext

3. Genres and repertoires

3.1. Resources

3.2. On genre

3.3. Emerging genres in an emerging tradition

3.4. Histories and letters

3.5. The repertoire

3.6. The misfit

4. Writing, remembering and being

4.1. Emerging genres, emerging lives

4.2. Writing and remembering

4.3. Who is Julien?

4.4. Textuality and subjectivity

PART 3: TSHIBUMBA THE HISTORIAN

5. Tshibumba: Artist, painter, historian

5.1. Paintings, conversations, and texts

5.2. Tshibumba Kanda Matulu

5.3. The storyline

6. The aesthetics of grassroots literacy

6.1. Writing as drawing

6.2. Tshibumba’s writing and drawing

6.3. Tshibumba’s voice

6.4. A disciplined voice

7. Sources as resources

7.1. The archive again

7.2. A national history with local resources

7.3. Tshibumba’s voices

8. The grassroots historian’s craft

8.1. Tshibumba’s historiographic methodology

8.2. Grassroots historiography and popular consciousness

8.3. Artist, painter, grassroots historian

PART 4: JULIEN, TSHIBUMBA AND BEYOND

9. Reflections

9.1. Lives, literacy, subjectivity

9.2. The skeleton of literacy practices

9.3. Grassroots literacy in globalization

9.4. History from below

9.5. Conclusion

NOTES & REFERENCES

About the Author

Jan Blommaert is Distinguished Professor of Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, as well as Professor of Linguistic Anthropology at Tilburg University. His publications include Debating Diversity (co-author, Routledge, 1998), Language Ideological Debates (editor, 1999) and Discourse: A Critical Introduction (author, 2005).

About the Series

Literacies

This series is being developed in response to the burgeoning research and scholarship in the field of literacy studies, and its increasingly interdisciplinary nature.
The aim of Literacies is to publish books on reading and writing which consider literacy as a social practice and which situate reading and writing within their broader institutional contexts.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDU002000
EDUCATION / Adult & Continuing Education
LAN000000
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / General
LAN009000
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
LAN010000
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Literacy