The proposed research examines how the use and interplay of two forms of public speaking in Madagascar reflect and shape shifting dynamics of political engagement and emerging modes of public participation in national democratic process. It centers on the highly-stylized traditional form of speech, kabary, and the less formalized forms of resaka. Ongoing interplay between these genres is invigorating new forms of communicative interaction between ordinary people and political elites in the public sphere. As vehicles of rhetoric and as means for enacting public identities, these genres are mediating larger institutional change as they are deployed by particular performers, in particular contexts, for particular interests. This research ultimately seeks to connect how the "work" of these genres is bounded in everyday perceptions about the nature of language itself.