Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Race
Secondary Theme: Identity and Equity
Our panel titled, “Race, Voicing, and (Re)Semiotization” addresses the conference themes of resistance, resilience, and adaptation by using linguistic anthropological approaches to show how language is central to the ways in which people and groups reconstitute themselves in the face of contemporary challenges and adversities. Specifically, the papers on this panel use linguistic ethnographic methods of analysis to investigate contemporary issues in racialization and racism. Together, they highlight language’s role in the construction of racial ideologies and conversely, the role of “race” in the construction of linguistic ideologies and practices, thereby adopting an explicitly raciolinguistic approach (Alim and Smitherman 2011, Alim 2016).
The papers on this panel examine how processes of racialization intersect with linguistic practices that involve voicing (Bakhtin 1981, Hill 1995) and (re)semiotization. By resemiotization, we mean the reconstitution of socially meaningful relationships between language and racialized subjectivities. As the papers will show, (re)semiotization is mediated through the raciolinguistic ideologies (Flores and Rosa 2015, Rosa 2016) participants bring to bear on their linguistic and discursive interactions. The first three papers, given by Aliabadi, Kosse, and Hall, show how participants reproduce stereotypical and/or racist language ideologies about minoritized groups through the raciolinguistic production of caricatures. First, Aliabadi examines how the indexicalities of language varieties in Disney films allows us to see that even in a movie often regarded as “progressive,” the language, accents, and dialects within the movie still play on traditional and often stereotypical notions of culture and ethnicity. Second, Kosse analyzes alt-right productions of racialized voices as stancetaking in a series of "parody" videos online; namely, the use of "Black" and "Jewish” voices. In the third paper, Hall examines the racialized dialect performances of a group of white men in Bermuda. She shows how these performances target black speech, either exaggerating or simplifying a number of the Bermudian English features on display, and finds that these performances propagate sociolinguistic stereotypes, fitting in with the literature on racialized dialect mockery and caricature. Continuing with the themes of mockery, caricature, and performance, Delfino’s paper examines how African American children in an after school program use the African American discourse practice called marking to create raciolinguistic parodies of adult disciplinary figures. She shows how marking speech acts helped students respond to and at times counteract their own raciolinguistic socialization into hegemonic structures of “appropriate behavior” for scholastic success. Finally, China offers a multimodal, interdisciplinary social media analysis of how Tumblr users employ Beyoncé, visually and linguistically, as a raciolinguistic semiotic resource, showing how they utilize Beyoncé to disrupt the sociopolitical status quo.
In drawing on a number of contemporary issues, topics, methods, and interdisciplinary fields regarding race and language in the U.S. and abroad, this panel will appeal to practicing and applied anthropologists, critical race studies and linguistics scholars, students, and educated publics.