Regaining a place from which to speak and be heard: In search of a response to the “violence of voicelessness”
Keywords: trauma, resilience, voice, displacement, precarity, heteroglossia, linguistic repertoire, lived experience of language
AbstractThis paper is concerned with linguistic vulnerability to man-made trauma, displacement, and exclusion, as well as with strategies of resilience that valorise socially-depreciated resources within the linguistic repertoire. It focuses on an interview carried out within a transdisciplinary project which – from a medical, a psycho-therapeutical and a linguistic perspective – addressed interrelations between multilingualism, trauma and resilience. A close reading of the biographical narrative raises three main points. First, how a life in permanent precarity and suspense is lived as “violence of voicelessness” (Anthonissen) – as the loss of any acknowledged position from which one can relate oneself to the world by social action and interaction. Second, how the pressure of exclusion contributes to re-invoking earlier traumatic or stressful experiences. Finally, how (sometimes unexpected) linguistic resources can strengthen resilience. Such resources include an awareness of the potential that lies in what I would call a “heteroglossia of survival”, in the possibility of mobilizing means of expression associated with the semiotic dimension of language (Kristeva), and in the struggle for recognition through which it becomes possible to re- position oneself, to regain a place from which to speak.
IV. Research notes
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).