Ethnography of communication and history : a case study of diplomatic intertextuality and ideology
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Journal of linguistic anthropology / American Anthropological Association. Society for Linguistic Anthropology. - Washington, D.C.
, p. 142-159
University of Antwerp
This article shows that an ethnography of communication approach is not only relevant to an understanding of how ways of speaking and language codes define the social-group boundaries of specific speech communities, but (1) that it can be equally pertinent to the analysis of the ideologies and language use of certain communities of practice, and (2) that it can be used to trace historical developments in such communities of practice intertextually. The community of practice on which I concentrate is the evolving segment of the world of international diplomacy that was preoccupied with the formulation of legal frameworks regulating warfare from 1856 to 1939. The source materials consist of a compilation of treaty texts, and the focus of the analysis is (a) on basic communicative terminology surrounding concepts such as arbitration, armistice, declarations of war and of neutrality, mediation, ultimatum, and the like, and (b) on regulatory discourse surrounding means of communication, from bearers of flags of truce to cables, postal correspondence, telegraph ships, and wireless telegraphy. Ingredients of context-specific and historically situated ideology of communication are brought to the foreground.