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ABSTRACT

This article aims to unsettle some taken-for-granted ideas about speech and power, to argue against taking testimony ‘at face value’ without reflecting also on silence, on the forms and techniques of talk, on embodied communication, and on the complex ways in which interests are expressed and animated. It argues that treating direct testimony in public political institutions as a metric of gender inequality may be another example of the distortions that follow from an uncritical adoption of an unmarked male template of speech as universal standard. The article aims thereby to improve the way development researchers ‘hear’, and how practitioners think about ‘participation’.