I present the result of a two-year research project developed at the “Instituto de Estudos de Linguagem” (IEL/Unicamp, Brazil) and also of action research I have been organizing since 2006 when I started to work as a professor at the “Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos”, in Brazil. Relying on recent developments in New Literacy Studies, I explore the concept of the continuum illiterate-literate and argue that it implies elements of transformation, as well as conservation. I also argue that three intersecting continua must be considered together: the continua oral-written, rural-urban and restricted-full literacy, always taking into consideration ethnicity as a variable (Cohen, 1974). Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Brazil, I show how elements of restricted literacy (Goody, 1968) are presented on the threshold of the twenty first century; how they entertain relation with the rural to urban migration and with a marked contrast between different ethnicities; and in what sense this fact may be visible in the everyday use of language and in the inherent in it.
Cite this paper
Cintra, M. (2013). Literacy, Ethnicity and Style. Advances in Anthropology, 3,
7-12. doi: 10.4236/aa.2013.34A002
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