Talk and Practical Epistemology
The social life of knowledge in a Caribbean community
Jack Sidnell | University of Toronto
Drawing on the methods of conversation analysis and ethnography, this book sets out to examine the epistemological practices of Indo-Guyanese villagers as these are revealed in their talk and daily conduct. Based on over eighty-five hours of conversation recorded during twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork, the book describes both the social distribution of knowledge and the villagers' methods for distinguishing between fact and fancy, knowledge and belief through close analyses of particular encounters. The various chapters consider uncertainty and expertise in advice-giving, the cultivation of ignorance in an attempt to avoid scandal, and the organization of peer groups through the display of knowledge in the activity of reminiscing local history. An orienting chapter on questions and an appendix provide an introduction to conversation analysis. The book makes a contribution to linguistic anthropology, conversation analysis and cross-cultural pragmatics. The conclusion discusses the implications of the analysis for current understanding of practice, knowledge and social organization in anthropology and neighboring disciplines.
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 142] 2005. xvi, 255 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins Publishing Company
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements | pp. vii–ix
What is a transcript? | pp. xi–xv
1. Malinowski’s complaint | pp. 1–18
2. Knowledge and talk-in-interaction | pp. 19–51
3. The village | pp. 53–74
4. The vernacular | pp. 75–82
5. Answering questions: A genealogy | pp. 83–106
6. Uncertainty and expertise in advice | pp. 107–129
7. Cultivated ignorance | pp. 131–150
8. Reminiscing local history | pp. 151–170
9. Policing knowledge | pp. 171–186
10. Conclusion: Knowledge, belief and action | pp. 187–206
Conversation analysis: A glossary and guide to the literature | pp. 207–221
Notes | pp. 223–238
Index | pp. 253–255
“This book demonstrates conclusively and richly the importance of studying language in particular situations in order to understand the production of meaning. It makes conversation analysis central to any account of practice, and I find this a very bold but well-supported view. An adequate account of human practice is an important goal and one that language scholars and scholars of pragmatics have a lot to contribute to. It's very well written and very erudite. This is an excellent book, which will be of great interest to many anthropologists, linguists, sociologists, communication and language scholars, as well as students of language use.”
Elizabeth Keating, The University of Texas at Austin
“There is much impressive and to be appreciated about this book. Three of its strengths strike this reviewer as especially noteworthy. First, by the last chapter Sidnell has clearly accomplished each of the objectives he set out to achieve. Perhaps most striking among these is the author's utilization of CA and his keen ability to link the insights it offers to topics which are not typically discussed by its practitoiners. Second, the volume includes a generous amount of empirical data: substantial excerpts of spoken discourse and ethnographic information. These come together in a relatively seamless manner, consistently reminding the reader that talk is embedded in and intertwined with its own epistemologies of practice. Third, the book successfully straddles various analytical perspectives. This study establishes its topic by tracking traditional inquiries. It can be said to link, and also to frequently transcend, established perspectives in the study of conversation, narrative, language and gender, sociohistory, identity and performance.”
Don E. Walicek, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, on Linguist List, Vol. 18.3233 (2007)
“The data Sidnell presents, which come from Sidnell's extensive fieldwork in a Guyanese village, are rich and vivid, and Sidnell's analyses of the interaction are elegant and illuminating. In fact, it is worth reading the book just for these analyses.”
Scott F. Kiesling, University of Pittsburgh, in Language in Society 38 (2009)
“An excellent book that makes a real contribution to a range of fields (linguistic anthropology, ethnography, conversation analysis, the sociology of knowledge, etc.). Among the book's real strengths is its integration of detailed analysis of language structure and the organization of talk with crucial issues in philosophy and ethnography. The detailed analysis is both insightful and substantive, and moreover the issues it raises and demonstrates about the organization of knowledge as practice are very important and original. This is an important, very original book that makes genuine substantive contributions and opens up important topics for discussion in a range of fields.”
Charles Goodwin, UCLA
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This list is based on CrossRef data as of 7 may 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.
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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number: 2005050766 | Marc record