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Beyond Talk and Testimony

Beyond Talk and Testimony

(p.189) Eight Beyond Talk and Testimony
Song Walking
Angela Impey
University of Chicago Press

Part III revisits the narrative arc of the book by representing in two-dimensional format a century of women’s ‘soundtracks’ across the pans and mountains of western Maputaland. Cultural maps are applied as a broadly understood measurement methodology that facilitates the assimilation of women’s shifting sensual and experiential land-use patterns with political and economic developments in the region. Accordingly, these maps are used to corroborate three kinds of ‘talk'. The first examines women’s walking songs as geopolitical testimony, granting authority to information about land and spatiality as conveyed in sound and bodily practice, and challenging the primacy of speech in the communication of women’s subjectivities and resistance. The second considers the translation of the women’s ultimate silence – a potentially more powerful, though ambiguous and culturally contingent form of communication – and contemplates the boundaries of its agency within a scenario that has come to be increasingly regulated by exogenous, neoliberal conservation governance. Interlinked with Chapter Eight, the Afterword presents the third ‘talk’, which ruminates on the role of the ethnomusicological voice within the noisy dialogue about land, biodiversity conservation and gender in Africa, and questions the scope of our reach as listeners, witnesses and academic citizens.

Keywords:   sound, silence, political voice, policy, ethnomusicological reach

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