Authentic and Denaturalized Identities

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30-17:20
RC25 Language and Society (host committee)

Language: English

Authentication and denaturalization are two key complementary relations by which identities are constructed (Bucholtz & Hall, 2005). Individuals, groups, and corporations routinely engage in the social process of authentication, seeking to position themselves or the products they are marketing as ‘the genuine article’. Indexicality serves as the mechanism by which this process is carried out, with the use of particular languages, linguistic features, or other semiotic resources being employed to index authenticity. The flip side of authentication is denaturalization, a process in which social actors actively problematize associations and assumptions regarded as commonsensical. Challenging the very notion of ‘authentic’ identities, the denaturalization process, often engaged in performatively, utilizes semiotic resources typically associated with groups or phenotypes other than one’s own, subverting essentialist ideologies, such as traditional notions of language ownership. There is no guarantee, however, that the indexicalities social actors intend are the ones that are, in fact, triggered in the minds of others, for even within a single culture, any given semiotic resource has an indexical field comprised of a constellation of different indexicalities (Eckert, 2008), and the contents of indexical fields can be expected to vary substantially across cultures. For this (regular) session, we seek papers that explore the processes of authentication and denaturalization in communication – be it face-to-face interactions, computer-mediated communication, advertising, or any other context in which particular identities are constructed.
Session Organizer:
Mark SEILHAMER, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Oral Presentations
The Geopolitics of Authenticating and Denaturalizing a Communist Hero
Zhipeng GAO, York University, Canada; Katherine BISCHOPING, York University, Canada
Personal Names and the Indexicality of Identities
Jane PILCHER, University of Leicester, United Kingdom
A Name of One’s Own: Formations of Difference and the Semiotics of Liminality
Sofia ABOIM, University of Lisbon,Institute of Social Sciences, Portugal
Distributed Papers
Arranging the Identity As “Communication Disorder”
Gentaro KATO, Otemon Gakuin University, Japan