Voices of Play

Miskitu Children's Speech and Song on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua

Amanda Minks (Author)
Paperback ($35.95), Ebook ($35.95) Buy
While indigenous languages have become prominent in global political and educational discourses, limited attention has been given to indigenous children’s everyday communication. Voices of Play is a study of multilingual play and performance among Miskitu children growing up on Corn Island, part of a multi-ethnic autonomous region on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.

Corn Island is historically home to Afro-Caribbean Creole people, but increasing numbers of Miskitu people began moving there from the mainland during the Contra War, and many Spanish-speaking mestizos from western Nicaragua have also settled there. Miskitu kids on Corn Island often gain some competence speaking Miskitu, Spanish, and Kriol English. As the children of migrants and the first generation of their families to grow up with television, they develop creative forms of expression that combine languages and genres, shaping intercultural senses of belonging.

Voices of Play is the first ethnography to focus on the interaction between music and language in children’s discourse. Minks skillfully weaves together Latin American, North American, and European theories of culture and communication, creating a transdisciplinary dialogue that moves across intellectual geographies. Her analysis shows how music and language involve a wide range of communicative resources that create new forms of belonging and enable dialogue across differences. Miskitu children’s voices reveal the intertwining of speech and song, the emergence of “self” and “other,” and the centrality of aesthetics to social struggle.
Voices of Play is a valuable study for those interested in the role of languages in cultural transformation and negotiating a sense of place and belonging. Minks’s work demonstrates the continued importance of children’s songs and games in regions that remain relatively isolated from mass media.”—Melany M. Bowman, Journal of American Folklore

“Minks’s text provides an ethnographic window into a segment of our world we might not otherwise visit or engage with that is ripe with lessons to learn about language and intercultural discourse.”—Sarah H. Watts, International Journal of Play

“Subtly nuanced, theoretically sophisticated, and delightfully accessible, this vibrant ethnographic study of Miskitu children’s imaginative, multilingual, and intercultural play opens up exciting new perspectives on how indigenous identities persist and change in a globalizing world. Its particular focus on play as the performance and negotiation of children’s social positions makes an important contribution to the literature on child socialization in the maintenance of indigenous languages and cultures.”—Jane Freeland, co-editor of Language Rights and Language Survival: Sociolinguistic and Sociocultural Perspectives
 
“This book is unique in how it brings together a novel ethnographic focus, ethnomusicology, and linguistic anthropology. Few ethnographies have been written about children in the anthropological literature, and even fewer have focused on children’s interactions. Voices of Play provides a detailed look at the everyday exchanges and the play performances of children and adolescents of Miskitu descent who are marginalized in various ways within the Nicaraguan nation-state.”—Barbra A. Meek, author of We Are Our Language: An Ethnography of Language Revitalization in a Northern Athabaskan Community
 
Voices of Play
240 Pages 6 x 9 Published: 2020 Paperback (9780816542666)
Ebook (9780816599844)

For Authors

The University of Arizona Press publishes the work of leading scholars from around the globe. Learn more about submitting a proposal, preparing your final manuscript, and publication.

Inquire

Requests

The University of Arizona Press is proud to share our books with readers, booksellers, media, librarians, scholars, and instructors. Join our email Newsletter. Request reprint licenses, information on subsidiary rights and translations, accessibility files, review copies, and desk and exam copies.

Request

Support the Press

Support a premier publisher of academic, regional, and literary works. We are committed to sharing past, present, and future works that reflect the special strengths of the University of Arizona and support its land-grant mission.

Give