Writing Ideology: Hybrid Symbols in a Commemorative Visitor Book in Israel

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This article joins recent ethnographies of written documents which shed light on embedded practices and codes in and through which writing is produced and consumed. The article explores the linguistic ideology of writing through examining inscriptions made in a visitor book in a war commemoration museum in Jerusalem, Israel. These settings supply a dual ideological framework, fusing the modern ideologies of authenticity and national commemoration. Under attention are the physical affordances and circumstances of the visitor book and how they contribute to an “authentic” mode of commemoration-cum-participation via inscribing, where language ideology and national ideology reinforce each other. The analysis suggests that the category “writing” is reductionist, and that under embodied sensibilities it should better be viewed as an array of textual, para-textual, and non-textual visual signs that are fused into the production of materialized hybrid inscriptions. Further, the situatedness and corporeality of inscribing practices carries far reaching semiotic implications, including the transformation of the ontic state of “texts” into that of symbols, calling for the rematerialization of inscribing. [handwriting, language ideologies, museum, commemoration, visitor book]

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Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, v. 18, issue 1, p. 62-81