Michelle Rosaldo
De l'opacité des intentions d'autrui
à l'anthropologie des émotions

Séminaire du Jeudi 19 janvier 2017

Michelle Z. Rosaldo [1944–1981],
Knowledge and Passion.
Ilongot Notions of Self and Social Life
Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1980

Quand au tournant des années 2000 les anthropologues océanistes découvrirent la doctrine largement répandue dans les sociétés océaniennes selon laquelle il est impossible ou du moins extrêmement difficile de connaître ce que d'autres gens pensent, de voir dans le cœur et l'esprit d'autrui, Michelle Rosaldo les avait précédés avec vingt ans d'avance, dans Knowledge and Passion, en partant de ce constat chez les Ilongot des Philippines:

( 31) "Our accounts [nos comptes rendus ethnographiques] are shaped not only by the concerns of the observer [l'anthropologue], but, at the same time, by the sorts of simplifications through which our interlocutors [les indigènes] give order to, as they reflect upon, their times and lives. Summary and system are moments in cross-cultural dialogue and analysis — in my case, they emerged from talking with informants about how they used their language, and about the sense of words with which they characterized and explained the nature of human action, and the interest of activities as diverse as killing [c'étaient des chasseurs de têtes], gardening, and hunting. But when my Ilongot friends tried to explain their ideas of jealousy and anger, energy, well-being, knowledge, and the opacity of one another's hearts, they never "just" answered my questions. They constructed an account of things they did and said that could stand up to their contemporary reflections — in part, at least, they were engaged in picturing a way of life they saw as lost."

Opacité du cœur d'autrui, c'est le point de départ de son enquête, dont la méthode s'inspire étroitement de la Pragmatique. Elle part des actes de parole et analyse comment les Ilongot utilisent leur langue et quel sens ont les mots qu'ils emploient pour expliquer leurs actions dans le contexte d'une situation donnée.

Comme l'écrivait Ch. MacDonald dans son compte rendu de Knowledge and Passion: «Sa matière est faite des termes, expressions, mots clés, familles de mots, métaphores qui permettent d'associer états émotionnels et formes de sociabilité. Son ossature est constituée par les institutions et processus sociaux: cycles de vie, organisation de la production et division sexuelle des tâches, parenté, mariage, chasse aux têtes, débat oratoire. A chaque contexte correspondent des états émotionnels et les termes qui les décrivent.»

Alessandro Duranti cite longuement dans The Anthropology of Intentions l'article [posthume] où Michelle Rosaldo partait d'une ethnographie des actes de parole chez les Ilongot pour critiquer l'intentionnalisme, dans la théorie philosophique des speech acts, et notre croyance spontanée en Occident à l'intelligibilité des intentions d'autrui.

Michelle Z. Rosaldo, The Things We Do with Words: Ilongot Speech Acts and Speech Act Theory in Philosophy, Language in Society, Vol.11, No.2 (Aug., 1982), pp.203–237.

Elargissant la perspective, nous devons replacer cette critique dans une ligne de recherche très classique en anthropologie, qui croise des traditions française (Marcel Mauss), anglaise (Godfrey Lienhardt) et américaine (de Ruth Benedict à Clifford Geertz) — précurseurs avoués dans Knowledge and Passion — sur la Personne, la personnalité et the self, pour construire ce qu'on appelait aux Etats-Unis dans les années 1980 une anthropologie des émotions.

Un speech event inaugural en 1974

Lors de leur premier séjour d'enquête en 1967–69, les Rosaldo (Michelle et Renato) avaient enregistré sur bandes magnétiques des chants de chasse aux têtes appelés buayat et en particulier la seule célébration à laquelle ils avaient personnellement assisté, a noisy, vibrant, hour-long recording of gongs, boasts, and choral singing occasioned by Burur's murder of a lowlander late in 1968 (p.32). A leur retour pour une seconde mission sur le terrain en 1974, leurs amis Ilongot leur demandèrent de leur faire écouter cet enregistrement.

(32) I knew, of course, that Ilongots loved music, elaborate speaking, all varieties of performance. During our previous fieldwork, they had come to view our tape recorder not simply as a vehicle through which we could learn their language, but also as an instrument for their own self-assertion, and — because of the very nature of song and formal speaking — for the creation of certain moods. For them, the sound of song and oratory on our tapes had a compelling and aesthetic force surpassing that of narrative or myth. Stories were, to them, mere words that they could dictate and see us write down; but all Ilongots acknowledge that no written text could capture what they loved about the stirring musicality of true verbal art.

Soulignons la prééminence des arts de parole (verbal art) dans cette ethnographie. Les buayat étaient jadis chantés pendant des heures, la nuit où l'on célèbrait une chasse aux têtes victorieuse, en sacrifiant un poulet (p.55), tandis que les hommes criaient des fanfaronnades (shout boasts), faisant monter l'émotion collective jusqu'à épuisement et extinction de voix. Passer en 1974 ce précieux enregistrement de 1968 devait être un événement inaugural et fondateur, pour l'anthropologie des émotions qu'allait construire Michelle Rosaldo, un événement de parole au dénouement aussi brutal qu'inattendu. Hommes et femmes s'entassaient dans la maison des Rosaldo. Certains hommes, comme Michelle l'apprit ensuite, avaient attendu toute la nuit devant la porte pour ne pas manquer ce moment où elle leur ferait écouter l'enregistrement.

(33) This time — to my surprise — they could not tolerate it. A crowded house, including men I later learned had stayed the night in hopes that I would play the tape, became silent when the song began, as if suddenly transported. Immediately I thought to listen with them, to share their memories, moods, and thoughts. But 'Insan — one of our most loyal friends, and an insistent pleader for the old recording — snapped brusquely at me to turn the tape off just moments after I had turned it on.

He told us that it hurt to listen to a headhunting celebration when people knew that there would never be another. As he put it: 'The song pulls at us, drags our hearts, it makes us think of our dead uncle.' And again: 'It would be different if I had accepted God, but I still am an Ilongot at heart; and when I hear the song, my heart aches as it does when I must look upon unfinished bachelors whom I know that I will never lead to take a head.'* Then Wagat, Tukbaw's wife, said with her eyes that all my questions gave her pain, and told me: 'Leave off now, isn't that enough? Even I, a woman, cannot stand the way it feels inside my heart!'

*Traditionnellement, les jeunes hommes (unfinished bachelors) devaient participer à une chasse aux têtes pour devenir adultes et pouvoir se marier.

Brusquement, l'attente enthousiaste du chant de guerre s'inverse en rejet et reproches. L'émotion est trop violente, le chant réactive la passion de la chasse aux têtes. Rosaldo sur le moment ne comprend pas, elle-même déstabilisée par la soudaine hostilité de ses amis. Plus tard tout s'explique par le contexte historique. Entre son départ en 1969 et son retour en 1974, la plupart des Ilongot se sont convertis au christianisme, et la chasse aux têtes a été abandonnée. Les Ilongot sont orphelins du fondement même de leur culture traditionnelle.

(58) Thus, when my friends found themselves upset by the tape-recorded buayat, they were reacting, at once, to a form of celebration that was intended to stir liget [la passion, la colère, l'énergie guerrière], and also to a vehicle [le magnétophone] which, bespeaking [montrant la valeur de] lowland ways [la culture occidentalisée des basses terres] and therefore an end to killing [la prohibition chrétienne de la chasse aux têtes], was associated at the same time with an abandoned liget to which it gave undying voice [une voix impérissable]. If the buayat itself was experienced by Ilongots as a beautiful and significant formulation of an otherwise unruly 'anger,' the fact that it had been taped added a new — and relevant — dimension to its force.

Utterly "decoupled'' from their contexts, taped performances were at other times dismissed with the cynicism that recognizes disembodied form as simply /59/ form and therefore playful. But the first time they heard their old buayat, a variety of circumstances — the voice of a dead kinsman, the memories stirred by our return, and the fact that, since our departure in 1969, most Ilongots aside from our closest friends had converted to Christianity — all combined to make the medium extend and reinforce the message, and to turn something my friends had thought to treat as play into a presence that was disquietingly real. Neither anthropologist nor native had expected that the tape would be upsetting. But, unlike myself, my friends immediately understood the import of what had taken place.

What for them must have been a poignant reminder of issues which — through converting, starting schools, irrigating once dry rice fields, and learning English songs — they were confronting daily and in a variety of ways, was for me a complex revelation. Their reactions to the recording — strange, powerful, and utterly surprising — at once confronted me with the "otherness" that, as an anthropologist, I had thought that I was seeking, and, at the same time, dramatized the sense in which my husband's and my presence — our tape recorders as much as the new Ilongot Bibles — would shape the ways in which Ilongot culture could be experienced, and so, described. Typifying their sense of the contrast between old and new and the conflicts of transition, the incident with the tape alerted me to the Ilongot concern for hearts and liget; it showed that through their talk of hearts and feelings, Ilongots linked past and contemporary experience — while pointing to the complex and ambivalent frame of mind in which emotions llongots associated with past practice would subsequently be discussed.

L'emploi des mots et le contexte d'énonciation

Toute interprétation doit partir du contexte, conclut Rosaldo (p.59), all understanding is ultimately contextual. D'où sa méthode en deux temps: 1°) Elle recueille les mots de la langue indigène désignant des émotions, puis 2°) elle observe comment ces mots sont employés in performance. Elle range sous ces mots les faits sociaux — personnes, relations, événements — que ces mots expliquent dans le discours indigène. La plupart des anthropologues procèdent des événements observés à ce que les indigènes en disent; à l'inverse, Rosaldo part des mots pour aller aux événements.

(19) To understand the order in Ilongot social lives, I had to hear what was implied by the things Ilongots said. and in particular, to "interpret" or discover the broad sorts of concern that lay behind their explanations of their acts. Whereas other anthropologists have been inclined to work "from outside in," first describing a patterned social world and then asking how individuals are "socialized" to work and live within it, I found it more illuminating to begin from the other pole of the analytical dialectic and ask how personal and affective life, itself "socially constructed," is actualized in and orders the shapes of social action overtime. This required an investigation of llongot words concerning hearts and motivations — especially, their words denoting 'energy/anger/passion' and civility, or 'knowledge' — and, at the same time, a discovery of local assumptions about the persons, relationships, and events to which such words were characteristically applied.

(27) In my own work, I assume that we can learn about the meaning of Ilongot headhunting raids and rites by focusing not simply on the organization of such events themselves, but instead on the emotional language Ilongots use in explaining how and why such violent deeds engage their interest.

(27) In so describing differences in human hearts in terms /28/ that link the things they feel to diverse facts of health, fertility, labor, storms, and social status, Ilongots create an idiom that provides a systematic, if not flawless, gloss on what is constant in their world, a way of understanding those activities through which forever fluid social bonds are given sense.

(28) In investigating words Ilongots use in talk 'about the heart,' this /29/ book attempts to show how Ilongot views of the experiencing self themselves provide the idioms that order and connect. It also tries to demonstate the relevance of these indigenous views for an understanding of both pattern and change in Ilongot society. My interest in emotional terms was influenced both by the ethnographic situation I encountered in the field and by a more general conviction that one reasonable point of access to the cultural ordering of any human ''form of life'' might well be such words and images as people use in their accounts of human action — descriptions, reflections, and explanations that give testimony to local understandings of "the self."

Une méthode associant herméneutique et pragmatique

En partant délibérément des représentations indigènes (indigenous views), des catégories de pensée indigènes (Ilongot words) et des façons de parler (elaborate styles of speech) typiquement Ilongot, inferred from present adult discourse (Preface, p.xi), qui donnent une forme intelligible aux pratiques sociales, thereby making accessible some of the terms in which Ilongots have understood their fellows' motives and made sense of themselves (ibid.), Michelle Rosaldo s'inscrit dans la grande tradition de l'anthropologie symbolique et herméneutique américaine et dans le sillage de Clifford Geertz. Mais elle reproche à l'anthropologie symbolique (Chicago) comme à l'ethnoscience (Yale) des années 1960 de s'être limitées, sur le plan linguistique, à l'étude purement sémantique des mots du lexique de la langue indigène, sans jamais prendre en considération le contexte d'énonciation et la pragmatique du discours:

(23) What both of these approaches [par les symboles à Chicago, par les terminologies à Yale] lack is a clue to how we are to understand straightforward native statements that cast 'anger' [liget] as a reason for beheadings [décapitations]. By treating lexical items as classificatory markers in an "objective" referential field, the ethnoscientist may recognize that referentially related terms in different languages include non-isomorphic sets of denotata. But in attending just to words and not to sentences and styles of speech, such an analyst fails to grasp the cultural shapes of what semanticists might reckon "connotation," and thus inevitably ignores the implications of what look like "metaphoric" turns of phrase for an illumination of the more "ordinary" ways that words are used.

Une anthropologie des émotions ne devient possible que lorsque la pragmatique et l'étude de la parole dans ses tournures de phrase et son contexte d'énonciation (in performance) viennent s'associer à l'interprétation des faits sociaux from the native's point of view.