This essay argues for the utility of fugitive speech forms as primary sources for Caribbean historical research. It seeks to shift the discussion from forms such as autobiography and the memoir to more ephemeral speech forms such as hearsay, rumor, and gossip on the grounds that peripheral genres enable a glimpse of subaltern agency that often evades public discourse. The essay argues that unsanctioned speech forms get us closer to everyday experience, offer a more processual understanding of the unfolding of events, and enable a glimpse at embedded affect that is often occluded from view. It thus follows James Scott's call for research on “hidden transcripts,” including gossip, sorcery, and spirit possession as well as other anonymous speech genres that may reveal a critique of domination, an approach with particular salience for the Caribbean, a region deeply shaped by colonial biopower.
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Lauren Derby; Beyond Fugitive Speech: Rumor and Affect in Caribbean History. Small Axe 1 July 2014; 18 (2 (44)): 123–140. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-2739893
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