Political Oratory and Cartooning
An Ethnography of Democratic Processes in Madagascar
"Insightful, detailed, and substantial, this book has much to say to students of language and followers of politics, not to mention those of us passionate about both and how they interact."
Virginia R. Dominguez, Gutgsell Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Why don't more people write books like this? Jennifer Jackson's brilliant insights on Malagasy cartooning, oratory, and political culture are not only a breath of fresh air for the anthropological study of political language, but a genuinely creative contribution to the study of global democracy."
David Graeber, Goldsmiths, University of London
Called kabary in the island nation of Madagascar, political oratory jostles with political cartoon satire in competing for public attention and shaping opinion. The apparent simplicity of these modes of political commentary conceals nuanced subtleties, which inform the constantly evolving landscape of politics. Linguistic anthropologist Jennifer Jackson offers an original semiotic analysis of the formative social role played by these narratives in Madagascar's polity. Though political orators and cartoonists rarely come face to face, their linguistic skirmishing both reflects and informs the political process, deploying rhetorical devices that have significant impacts on the vernacular political culture, its language and publics.
This new ethnography examines the dynamic interplay between past and new forms of oratory and satire and their effects in social, religious, class, and transnational contexts. Jackson assesses how far they mirror the vicissitudes of political agency and authority, especially under the leadership of President Marc Ravalomanana. The author shows how democracy must be understood as historically contingent, bound in a local and global accretion of social and economic relations, and always mediated by language.
About the Author:
Jennifer Jackson is Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1994, her research has focused on Madagascar and the US, spanning studies in semiotics, language ideologies and aesthetics, and verbal and visual artistic performance in political practice related to the formation of democracy, civil society, and statehood.