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From "Acadien" to "Cajun". Ethnic Labelization and Construction of Identity.

From "Acadien" to "Cajun". Ethnic Labelization and Construction of Identity.

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Academic article on Cajun culture.
Academic article on Cajun culture.

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Published by: MissTrudy on Jan 21, 2013
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04/11/2015

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From "Acadien" to "Cajun" to "Cadien": Ethnic Labelization and Construction of IdentityAuthor(s): Jacques HenryReviewed work(s):Source:
Journal of American Ethnic History,
Vol. 17, No. 4 (Summer, 1998), pp. 29-62Published by:
on behalf of the
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FromAcadientoCajuntoCadieni
Ethnic Labelization andConstructionofIdentity
JACQUESHENRYOBSERVATION OFeverydaylife in Southwest Louisianaclearlyat
teststothe existence ofaFrench-based ethnicphenomenon:French isspoken,Cajun identityisclaimedonsignsandinpublications,in-groupsolidarityispracticedinkingroupsandorganizations, Cajunmusic isplayed,ethnicfoodiscooked andsold,andCajuncountryistouredbyvisitors.Yet,theanswertothequestion"What isaCajun?"remainselusive.Operationalandanecdotal definitions aboundfromindividualCajuns,scholars,legislatorsandwriters ofallkinds,frompoetstohumorists;yetthisprofusionis oflittlehelpinprovidingaclearconsensus.Ontheonehand,viewsofCajunethnicitybyCajunsvaryaccordingtosituational and referentialcontexts;1ontheotherhand,definitionshavebeenattemptedfromdifferent theoreticalperspectivesbyhistorians,geographers,sociologists,anthropologists,linguists,and folkloristswithgoalsasdiverseasprovidinganofficialdefinition,delineatingaterritory,findinginformantsoranalyzingCajunethnicidentity.AlldefinitionsfocusonorrefertoAcadianancestry,Frenchlanguage, ecologicaland culturaladaptationtoSouthwesternLouisiana,Catholicism,agriculturalism,andaparticularfolkcultureasthemain variablesofCajunethnicity.Yet,theseeffortsaredeemedwantingbecause ofinadequaciesinherenttotheapproach,2thefast-evolving,multi-dimensionalandsometimesparadoxicalnatureofthephenomenonathand3orthelargertheoretical difficultiesintacklingtheissueofethnicityperse.4Thisarticleattemptsanotherapproach.Itconsistsofananalysisofthewrittenoccurrencesofthelabels usedtodescribe the descendantsoftheAcadianexilesinLouisiana,andespeciallytheEnglish-French pairCajun/cadien.5Theethno-historicalexplorationof thelabel'screation,use,andmeaningrevealthedialecticalprocessatplayin theconstructionofCajunethnicity.ThisanalysisconfirmstheearlyrealizationofcadieninLouisianaAcadianspeechandthecoiningofCajunbyoutsiderswhopopularizedthe word in the latenineteenthcentury;itpresents
This content downloaded on Wed, 16 Jan 2013 20:22:02 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
 
30JournalofAmericanEthnicHistory/ Summer 1998thevariationsinpatternsofutilizationofCajun/cadienfrom itsemergenceas aderogativetermusedbyoutsiderstoitscurrentpositivebutdivergentrealizationsinEnglishand French.Theanalysisof the evolutionthroughchangingsocialcontextsand fromin-groupandout-groupperspectivesshows that theuseandmeaningofCajun/cadiencloselyespousessocialandculturalchanges.Stablesymbolofachangingcultureorconstantmarkerofshiftingethnicboundaries,Cajun/cadienappearsthroughhistorical evolutionas areliable indicatorof theongoingconstructionofCajun ethnicity.
DATA ANDMETHODOLOGY
Thedataconsist of writtenoccurrencesofCajun/cadien,aderivativeof acadien[akadi?]whichreferstothepeopleand culture ofAcadie,aregiononthe Canadian Atlanticcoast.Cajun/cadienisnowusedtodesignatethegroup,languageandculture ofpeopleassumedtodescendfrom theAcadian exileswho settledinLouisiana aftertheirdeportationfrom Canadain1755. Akeyword hereis"assumed"becausethedefinitionofCajun/cadienisstillaknotofconfusiondespitealongpresenceinLouisianaandasurgeofcommercialandscholarlyinterestinthepasttwodecades.Oneissue isunanimously agreedupon:there would havebeenand therewouldbenoCajunsifAcadianshadnotsettledinLouisiana between1765and 1785. Therestisamatterof debate.CajunisthewrittenformoftheAmericanEnglishpronunciationof[kedzAn];[kedz^n]useduniversally byCajunsandnon-Cajunsaswellasby Englishand Frenchspeakers.InconformitywithEnglishmorphology,it is theonlyform oftheadjectiveandthesingularnoun,anditis both masculineandfeminine.Cadienandcadjinarethe written formsof theLouisianaFrenchpronunciationof[kadzej.[kadze]usedexclusivelybyFrenchspeakers,mostlyby Cajunsbut alsobynon-Cajuns.Thefeminineform of bothtermsisrespectivelycadienne[kadien]andcadjine[kadzin].Thepluralof both thenounandadjective,masculineandfeminine,ismarked withthesending,whichisnotrealizedinspeech.Theoriginaloralrealization of thetermwillremain shroudedbytheeternalsilence of itslong-goneunrecordedspeakers.Modern oralusagerangesfrom[ka:dz?]to[kadie]inFrench and[kedzAn]inEnglish.Thehistorical evolutioncan,however,bereconstructedfromwrittensourcesthatprovidediachronic and codifiedinformation.The datapresentedheredoesnotclaimtobeexhaustive,especially
This content downloaded on Wed, 16 Jan 2013 20:22:02 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

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