Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts

Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts

James C. Scott

Language: English

Pages: 251

ISBN: 0300056699

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Confrontations between the powerless and the powerful are laden with deception - the powerless feign deference and the powerful subtly assert their mastery. Peasants, serfs, untouchables, slaves, labourers, and prisoners are not free to speak their minds in the presence of power. These subordinate groups instead create a secret discourse that represents a critique of power spoken behind the backs of the dominant. At the same time, the powerful also develop a private dialogue about practices and goals of their rule that cannot be openly avowed. In this book, the author, a social scientist, offers a discussion both of the public roles played by the powerful and powerless and the mocking, vengeful tone they display off stage - what he terms their public and hidden transcripts. Using examples from the literature, history, and politics of cultures around the world, the author examines the many guises this interaction has taken throughout history and the tensions and contradictions it reflects.

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plausible. After all, when Winstanley, in the English Civil War, wanted to describe the relationship between property law and the poor, he dramatized it in familiar terms: "The law is the fox, poor men are the geese; he pulls off their feathers and feeds upon them."76 A seditious reading of the geese roasting a man is, of course, disavowable; that is why it is cast in equivocal terms. Given the codes and imagery then in circulation, a subversive interpretation is also available. The prints

. 94. Habermas argues that strategic lying and deception are parasitic on "genuine" speech acts since the deception and lying work only if they're mistakenly accepted as the truth by one's interlocutor. 95. Gilmore, Aggression and Community, 16. Arts ofPolitica1 Disguise be less ferocious, and certainly the pleasures of carnival would not be so heavily concentrated in one segment of the society. Accepting, for the moment, the place of suppressed speech and acting in carnival, we must still

Prince Souphannouvoung and so on in deliberate order through the Lao leadership and envoys from other socialist states. Marching past, again as in Red Square, were first the military, by service, then the police, the uniformed Lao workers (not the peasantry, mind you, but the fictitious Lao proletariat), minority women militia, motorbike police and military-all of the foregoing, incidentally, wearing white gloves. Next came the obligatory tanks, military hardware, and a flyover by the few

ideas, dialect here functions as a kind of moral discourse, expressing publicly a sense of identity and affiliation with one's working-class mates as against the middle and upper classes. Any sign of a linguistic betrayal of working-class dialect would be read as a telltale sign of a more general defection. How does a subculture of subordinates with less social power, almost by definition, than the dominant culture achieve a high level of conformity? The answer surely lies in the social

gentry, magistrates, and mayors."34 It goes without saying that when subordinates, individually or collectively, embark on direct attacks on the property or person of their superiors, they are likely to obscure their identity by precautions such as moving at night or wearing disguises. Poachers, arsonists, seditious messengers, and actual rebels take the same prudent steps as the highwayman. In the Catholic West the tradition of carnival provides, as we shall see, a ritual tradition that

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