Freedom of Speech

Matei Candea, Fiona Wright, Taras Fedirko, Paolo Heywood, Felix Stein (Editor), Joel Robbins, Rupert Stasch (Editor), Andrew Sanchez (Editor), Sian Lazar (Editor), Hildegard Diemberger (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Abstract / Description of output

Free speech is a familiar concept. It is an established ideal of liberalism and democratic politics, and the subject of political debate and conflict across diverse historical and cultural contexts. Free speech has not primarily been considered, however, as a set of lived, valued, and contested practices, mediated by various linguistic, ethical, and material forms. While anthropology has not traditionally occupied itself with free speech, it has extensive tools for bringing free speech into view beyond its quality as an abstract ideal or legal category. This entry borrows theoretical perspectives, as well as ethnographic examples produced by anthropologists, to shed light on free speech within a broader comparative frame. It begins by focusing on free speech as a dynamic value or virtue, asking: what is it about ‘free’ or ‘direct’ speech that people value when they value it? Secondly, the entry casts critical light on the idea of an individual as the universal ‘free speaker’, demonstrating how collective or disaggregated subjects can also practice free speech. Thirdly, it explores the material settings, contexts, or technologies through which free speech is curtailed or realised. Finally, the entry considers the idea of ‘voice’ as signalling modes of embodiment, and auditory phenomena such as noise, sound, and silence, which are not spoken language but can inform and expand our understanding of free speech.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameCambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology
ISSN (Print) 2398516X


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