“no I wont give you his voice”

the field worker asks:

how may you be made ready to hear the voice(s) you ask me/us to reveal to you?

why do you want us to reveal that “authentic” voice to you?

the academic wonders:

who decided that if I put something in quotes it becomes his authentic voice?

how may you be made ready to hear the voices you think you will hear if we reveal his words to you?

how would you know his “authentic” voice when you do not take the trouble to go there and hear it as a voice in context?

why do you wish me to pull forth his voice for you to pull forth with the click of a mouse

how does that make you the judge of whether or not it is really his voice

why is she assumed to be voiceless

is the conceptualization of “voice” is in your control

the academic and fieldworker dilemmas merge, the speak in unison:


no you we will not “give” you her voicings

you will just have to make the effort of trying to understand within what we write

or come down and try to translate it yourself – but be assured you are being watched as you

confident of your ability to translate

invade, capture and preview





so that they may be pulled up and analyzed and understood

even as you take their daily living away as in the capturing and replaying

you take no note of what they seem to be asking for

because the complexity of what they say cannot be captured, recorded, shifted and replayed




all so that you may feel you are a part of the community of protest

you have replayed, captured and colonized his meaning

yet again.

I reiterate:

And yet who are you or I to think we hold someone’s voice

it is not yours to “give”.

or mine to “take”.

If it is yours to give – the terms of  your inclusion, your power and your participation must indeed be reexamined.

where does complicity end and representation begin

who authenticates it as belonging to who?

Who owns “voice”?


The irony here is the commodification and packaging of “voice” by both the Global South based NGO representatives and the Global North based Academic – it is a tug of war over who releases the voice and at what price… 

But this does not mean the intentions and aspirations and affective investments are dishonest.

The question is still of representation – and a commodification of the Other.


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