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"For you have given me speech!"—Gifted Ethnographers, Illiterate Primitives, and Media Epistemologies in the Poetry and Plurimedial Writing of Margaret Mead

Reichel, A. Elisabeth


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    <subfield code="a">"For you have given me speech!"—Gifted Ethnographers, Illiterate Primitives, and Media Epistemologies in the Poetry and Plurimedial Writing of Margaret Mead</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;This article centers on the role of the medium of alphabetic writing in the poetry and scholarship of Margaret Mead (1901&amp;ndash;1978), one of the most prolific writers of 20th-century U.S.-American anthropology. I argue that Mead&amp;rsquo;s writing about and with words is continuous with the Eurocentric cultural evolutionist understanding of phonetic writing as a marker of ultimate human advancement. Mead&amp;rsquo;s demarcation of her subjects&amp;rsquo; alterity by their lack of and failure to use the medium of script extends the process of epistemic colonization well into the 20th century, a process that denies the people that anthropologists study the ability to become involved with the very discourses that cast them in this position of objects of study. I first focus on Mead&amp;rsquo;s largely unexplored poetic writing and then consider the plurimedial work that grew out of her fieldwork in Bali.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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