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Caribbean Women’s Fugitive Speech Traditions

Title: Caribbean Women’s Fugitive Speech Traditions.
Name(s): McAlister, Elizabeth, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Journal Article
Date Issued: 2019-12-31
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This essay analyzes Caribbean Creolophone women’s speech, para-linguistic sounds, and songs as an underappreciated form of women’s self-fashioning. Afro-Creole women’s speech developed as a tradition within conditions of fugitivity (Derby 2014; Moten 2008). Fugitive speech here refers to speech and vocalized sounds, meant to be understood only by those in a position to know its meanings, under repressive conditions. Caribbean women use vocal expressions to constitute themselves into collectivities that sustain and support them. This essay firstconsiders the sphere of women’s gossip and its meta-linguistic sounds, and then the links between gossip and magic that reveal themselves in the ethos of fugitivity and silence in the magico-juridical secret societies in Haiti. Finally, we listen to the noisy, boisterous women’s songs in the public street bands called Raras. A final section considers the silences, sufferings, and punishments that men have visited on Creolophone women and the links between silence, para-linguistic sounds, and suffering. This essay builds on Sarah Mantilla Griffin’s work on Black women’s “sonic performatives” in American literature. Griffith argues that black women’s writings incorporate sound-based ways of knowing that have contributed to Afro-modernity, but have gone underappreciated (Griffin 2012, vi). I extend her insights to consider the Creolophone sounds, noises, and speech that Haitian women have created to sustain and express themselves and defy male repression.
Identifier: FSU_libsubv1_scholarship_submission_1578501674_20f0ecf3 (IID)
Publication Note: Selected essay from the Women in French International Conference 2018
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU
Is Part Of: Women in French Studies Special Conference Issue.

Choose the citation style.
McAlister, E. (2019). Caribbean Women’s Fugitive Speech Traditions. Women In French Studies Special Conference Issue. Retrieved from