Sometimes we convey what we mean not by what we say but by what we do, wear or eat: sometimes it is by gesture of the hand, a curl of the lip or a raising of an eyebrow. The authors of this new volume ask what kind of communication occurs when we employ these indirect means of conveying our intentions. Anthropologists soon learn that understanding the codes of conventional behaviour in a foreign setting requires paying special attention to what is not said as much as to what is . From patent miscommunication, through potent ambiguity to pregnant silence this incisive collection examines the many possibilities of indirect communication. A complex and important aspect of social life, indirection itself has rarely been the focus of ethnographic study. In this volume, for the first time, different modes of indirect communication are brought together and examined in the light of anthropological ideas and concepts. Drawing on their experiences in the field, from a Mormon Theme Park in Hawaii, through carnival time on Montserrat, to the exclusive domain of the Market, the case studies examine the many ways in which we can communicate indirectly, both verbally and non-verbally.
The authors discuss how indirect communication can be deliberate and how the most expressive form of communication is often the most indirect. By illustrating how food, silence, sunglasses, martial arts and rudeness can all constitute powerful ways of conveying meaning. An Anthropology of Indirect Communication is a fascinating and engaging text which provides a challenging introduction to this growing area of thought and study.
Joy Hendry is Professor of Social Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University. Her main area of interest is Japan and her publications include An Anthropologist in Japan (1999). C.W. Watson is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He is a specialist on Indonesia and Malaysia and his publications include Multiculturalism (2000).