(Dis)locating Speech Acts: The Negotiation of Relational Identities between Asylum Seekers and Locals in East Anglia, England

By Sophia Rainbird.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the interactions and tensions between asylum seekers and locals in the small isolated town of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England based on ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in 2002/2003. Tensions between asylum
seekers from numerous ethnic groups and homelands and locals were largely informed by the context of the impending war in Iraq, social deprivation and a largely mono-cultural population. In this paper, these tensions will be explored through
a focus on (dis)locating (Edwards and Usher,1997; Laclau,1990) speech acts which refer to the notion of reworking of identities where ‘location and dislocation are simultaneous moments always found together, a positioning with simultaneously
one and many positions’ (1997:255). Negotiating identities through (dis)locating speech acts allow for the construction of the ‘other’ in order to locate one’s sense of self. This is particularly evident in the repercussions of the media conceptualisation
of asylum seekers that are informed both for and by wider social and political constructions fuelling mutual mistrust and fear. (Dis)locating speech acts through relational identities becomes a useful coping mechanism, as asylum seekers
hold a certain amount of agency to move between facets of identities and define their sense of self. (Dis)locating speech acts can be considered a relevant framework in which to explore ethnic, racial and cultural intersections in a global context.

Keywords: Asylum Seekers, Identity, Speech Acts, Media, England

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.327-338. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.253MB).

Dr. Sophia Rainbird

Research assistant, Discipline of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia


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