Journal of Linguistic Anthropology

"Whorish Old Man" and "One (Animal) Gentleman"

Authors

  • John B. Haviland


Abstract

Working with a series of narratives about a family dispute told over more than thirty years by an elderly Tzotzil-speaking Indian, from Chiapas, Mexico, I consider several puzzles about the widely espoused notion of the "textual self." Here the voices of others, perhaps more than that of the speaker whose self is being constituted, are centrally incorporated into his ongoing self-reflective biographical account. Moreover, as the narrator moves toward the end of his life, his story seems to lock itself into a closed discursive universe, in which the words of salient others become the repetitive, insistent, and inescapable theme of his self-conception and presentation.

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