HISTOIRE ET COURANTS DE L'ANTHROPOLOGIE SOCIALE ET CULTURELLE

Parole, autorité et violence — 1

Objet du débat —
L'autorité de la parole ne marque-t-elle pas nécessairement la domination d'une tradition écrite sur les pratiques de la vie quotidienne?

18 novembre 2019
Violence des catégories de la pensée collective

En contrepoint:
Michael Lempert
Discipline and Debate.
The Language of Violence
in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery,
University of California Press, 2012 

Dans la Bibliothèque Tessitures:
Anthropologues 1970s → > Lempert (Michael)

Parmi les pratiques traditionnelles relevant des Arts de la parole, Verbal Art disent les anthropologues après Richard Bauman, sont organisées, pour la transmission du savoir et l'apprentissage des disciplines de soi, des joutes oratoires entre lettrés, virtuoses de la parole, et des échanges d'arguments entre experts devant un aréopage. Michael Lempert (Université du Michigan), anthropologue linguiste, a étudié ces pratiques dans les monastères bouddhistes tibétains de la diaspora en Inde.

Synopsis rédigé par Lempert pour présenter son livre en 2012

This research traces the career of the modern liberal subject in the Tibetan diaspora in India. Focusing on incivility in courtyard debate (rtsod pa), public reprimand (tshogs gtam), and corporeal punishment at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in India, I show how received forms of monastic pedagogy and discipline have come to trouble Tibetans who aspire to modernity.

Following his dramatic flight to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama began to fashion Tibetan Buddhism into a 'modern' world religion, stressing its commitment to rational inquiry and compatibility with empirical science. Above all, he declared non-violence and "universal compassion" to be Buddhism's essence, a declaration that coincided with a political appeal: that the People's Republic of China respect human rights in Tibet, that it turn back its policies of ethnic and cultural repression so that Tibet might enjoy, if not independence, at least a "meaningful autonomy." As Adams (1998)* has suggested, the exiled Tibetan embrace of metropole human-rights discourse has obliged Tibetans to take seriously certain liberal-humanist ideals, including belief in the individual, autonomous, rights-bearing subject. These ideals, together with the liberal post-Enlightenment ideals of clarity, sincerity, and civility in speech — ideals that have entered Tibetan diasporic communities along several routes and whose genealogy stems to at least 17th-century England — often clash with Tibetan cultural sensibilities about how young monks should be socialized into their vocation. For debate, what should be done with the challengers' histrionic anger when he hurls invectives at the seated defendant and uses blistering hand-claps that explode inches from the defendant's nose? What of the practice's unequal 'rights' of participation, like the fact that it's the challenger who regulates topic flow and gets to ask the questions? What of reprimand and corporeal punishment, monastic practices that figurate hierarchical relations between interactants and thus also shape moral dispositions in seemingly nonliberal ways?

To draw out these tensions, I examine the semiotics of incivility at two ideologically opposed sites in the field of Tibetan religious education: (a) the conservative Sera Monastery in Byllakupe, south India, a bastion of traditionalism populated by several thousand monks, and (b) the smaller, self-consciously modernized "Institute of Buddhist Dialectics" in Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama and epicenter of Tibetan Buddhist modernism in India. This project, based in linguistic and sociocultural anthropology, argues that globalizing modernity cannot simply be studied as a set of circulating ideals and institutions but is played out in struggles over what these larger scale ideals and institutions materially look like in routinized events of face-to-face interaction.

*Adams, Vincanne. 1998. Suffering the Winds of Lhasa: Politicized Bodies, Human Rights, Cultural Difference, and Humanism in Tibet. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 12 (1):74-102.


Lectures complémentaires

Dans la Bibliothèque Tessitures:
Anthropologues 1970s → > Lempert (Michael)

Michael P. Lempert, Denotational Textuality and Demeanor Indexicality in Tibetan Buddhist Debate, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Vol. 15, Issue 2, December 2005, pp.171–193.

Michael P. Lempert, Disciplinary theatrics: Public reprimand and the textual performance of affect at Sera Monastery, India, Language and Communication, Vol. 26, No. 1, January 2006, pp.5-33.

Michael Lempert, Conspicuously Past: Distressed Discourse and Diagrammatic Embedding in a Tibetan Represented Speech Style, Language and Communication, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2007, pp.258–271.

Michael Lempert and Sabina Perrino, Entextualization and the Ends of Temporality (Introduction), Language and Communication, Volume 27, No. 3, 2007, pp. 205–211.

Michael Lempert, The poetics of stance: Text-metricality, epistemicity, interaction, Language in Society, Volume 37, Issue 4, 2008, pp.569–592.

Charlene Makley, Review of: Discipline and debate: The language of violence in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery by Michael Lempert, Language in Society, Vol.42, No.4 (September 2013), pp. 457-460.