Voices of Play
Miskitu Children's Speech and Song 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.
“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