Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts

Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts

James C. Scott

Language: English

Pages: 251

ISBN: 0300056699

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Confrontations between the powerless and the powerful are laden with deception - the powerless feign deference and the powerful subtly assert their mastery. Peasants, serfs, untouchables, slaves, labourers, and prisoners are not free to speak their minds in the presence of power. These subordinate groups instead create a secret discourse that represents a critique of power spoken behind the backs of the dominant. At the same time, the powerful also develop a private dialogue about practices and goals of their rule that cannot be openly avowed. In this book, the author, a social scientist, offers a discussion both of the public roles played by the powerful and powerless and the mocking, vengeful tone they display off stage - what he terms their public and hidden transcripts. Using examples from the literature, history, and politics of cultures around the world, the author examines the many guises this interaction has taken throughout history and the tensions and contradictions it reflects.





















and "etiquette" regulates public conduct within them. In principle at least, status in these systems of domination is ascribed by birth, mobility is virtually nil, and subordinate groups are granted few if any political or civil rights. Although they are highly institutionalized, these forms of domination typically contain a strong element of personal rule.3 Here I have in mind the great latitude for arbitrary and capricious conduct by the master toward his slave, the lord to his serf, the

the May Day ceremony in Moscow's Red 28. I am much indebted to Grant Evans, University of Hong Kong, for an account of this event, which he attended, and for the acute observations about Laotian agricultural cooperatives that follow. Public Transcript as Performance Square before the Kremlin. Weeks before the celebration steps were taken to ensure a smooth performance; curfews were imposed, banners were hung, buildings were repainted, the parade ground near the important Buddhist shrine of

situation are hopeless. I do not by any means wish to imply that the history of peasants and slaves is a history of one quixotic adventure after another or to ignore the chilling effects a crushed insurrection certainly had. Nevertheless, since slave and peasant uprisings occur frequently enough and fail almost invariably, one can make a persuasive case that whatever misperception of reality prevails was apparently one that was more hopeful than the facts warranted. The penchant of subordinate

runaways who had made it to the North or to Canada and from accounts collected after emancipation. The goal of slaves and other subordinate groups, as they conduct their ideological and material resistance, is precisely to escape detection; to the extent that they achieve their goal, such activities do not appear in the archives. In this respect, subordinate groups are complicitous in contributing to a sanitized official transcript, for that is one way they cover their tracks. Acts of

shorter of two lines is, in fact, the longer. When this happens, most subjects are unable to swim alone against the tide of (mistaken) opinion and concur openly with the others. When, however, even a single confederate of the experimenter disagrees with the rest, the subject reverts to what we imagine was his original perception and joins the dissent. A single companion often seems sufficient to break the pressure to conform. Although these experiments hardly replicate the conditions of

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