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StanceSociolinguistic Perspectives$
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Alexandra Jaffe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331646

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.001.0001

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Stance and Distance

Stance and Distance

Social Boundaries, Self‐Lamination, and Metalinguistic Anxiety in White Kenyan Narratives about the African Occult

(p.72) 4 Stance and Distance

Janet McIntosh

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the complex and sometimes contradictory linguistic and metalinguistic stances of white Kenyan speakers in their conversations about indigenous African religion and spirituality. Although many white Kenyans have had some kind of personal encounter with the African occult, they are ambivalent about their involvement in metaphysical practice and belief marked as “African.” Speakers thus deploy stances to establish their virtual distance not only from African occult ontology but also from certain utterances about the African occult and about their own beliefs. This chapter contends that these metalinguistic stances are conditioned not only by anxiety about the clash between “superstition” and the nominally rational white persona, but also by a more complex kind of folk anxiety in which certain entextualized belief statements have taken on a talismanic kind of power.

Keywords:   belief, entextualization, Kenya, metalanguage, occult, postcoloniality, self, stance, superstition, witchcraft

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