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Eloquence EmbodiedNonverbal Communication among French and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas$
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Céline Carayon

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469652627

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652627.001.0001

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“The Greatest Speech-Makers on Earth”

“The Greatest Speech-Makers on Earth”

Oratory and the Symbolic Language of Diplomacy in the Mature French Atlantic

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(p.357) 6 “The Greatest Speech-Makers on Earth”
Source:
Eloquence Embodied
Author(s):

Céline Carayon

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652627.003.0007

This chapter considers some of the ways in which nonverbal repertoires that had been painstakingly created over two centuries of interaction were creatively mobilized by Indigenous and French individuals in the long seventeenth century to produce culturally-hybrid performances. Opening with the Great Peace of Montreal (1701), the chapter describes the epistemological differences that caused misunderstandings even as Jesuit missionaries and Indian orators skilfully blended visual and verbal metaphors and registers to reach their audiences during religious and diplomatic exchanges. The highly adaptable and multimedia nature of Indigenous verbal art is compared with the efforts of the Jesuits to insert select Indigenous gestures within their orations. Ambivalent feelings towards the unauthentic nature of theatrical performances and competition with Indian jongleurs (shamans) limited the missionaries’ ability to harvest the power of Indian oratory. As the French expanded westward and down the Mississippi valley in the second half of the century, they were forced to confront the limits of some of their nonverbal strategies, as demonstrated through the case-study of the calumet. After two centuries of embodied communication, it had become harder to tell “French” apart from “Native” nonverbal devices.

Keywords:   Oratory, Great Peace of Montreal (1701), Jesuit missionaries, Metaphors, Indigenous verbal art, Jongleurs, Mississippi valley, Calumet, hybridity

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