Discoursive strategies for coping with sensitive topics of the Other
AbstractThis paper explores border residents' strategies for coping with topics which they perceive as difficult or sensitive in their discourses about people living in such European border locations. Thus we are concerned with the way in which people negotiate accounts of implicit or explicit ethnic conflict, prejudice or negative stereotyping of 'the Other'. We indicate two types of such strategies. First, the strategy of mitigation, in which informants attempt to soften or licence their stereotypical views. Second, we shall discuss a strategy in which mitigation is replaced by the practice of 'oracular reasoning' in our informants' constructions of the ethnic Other; this occurs in those instances when a basic premise is confronted with contradictory evidence, but the evidence is ignored or rejected. The data for our analysis come from 12 border communities in which informants talk about the Other from either across the border, or, in the case of multi-ethnic communities, from within the community itself. We focus upon constructions that purport to give a universal answer to questions of 'what they are like'. Specifically, we explore those constructions where informants have to deal with conflictual voices (either explicit or implicit in the informants' discourse) which question their accounts or contradict the claims they make. Finally, we see the strategies for coping with conflictual accounts of the Other as indicative of the tension between the discursively postulated social/ethnic separation of the border communities and the constructed threat from the Other on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the new and changing public discourse of the Other and the politics underpinning it which goes counter to those more private discourses. (Routledge)
CitationJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 29(5): 849-863
PublisherLondon, Routledge (Taylor & Francis)
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
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