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Academic Paper

Title: Scientizing Bangladeshi psychiatry: Parallelism, enregisterment, and the cure for a magic complex
Author: James M. Wilce
Institution: Northern Arizona University
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: Bengali
Abstract: This article combines textual, videotape, historical, and ethnographic evidence to describe the Bangla psychiatric register and its enregisterment. Enregisterment is a process “through which a linguistic repertoire becomes differentiable [and] … socially recognized” (Agha 2003:231). The emergence of psychiatric registers in Europe and, later, Bangladesh bore the particular burden of psychiatry's "magic complex" – its need to convince a skeptical public that its perceived associations with magic and religion were finished, vanquished in part by discursive measures, focused on a scientizing drive. Psychiatric Bangla appears to involve the sort of pervasive use of parallelism normally associated with ritual texts. This indicates a profound hybridity that may contribute to the psychiatric unease epitomized in the magic complex.


This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 37, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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