GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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The Apocalyptic Hijab: Mediating Gendered Conflict Talk in an Emirati Animated Sitcom
Paper Proposal Text :
Emirati animated sitcoms emblemize the idiosyncratic concerns and ethnolinguistic identities in the United Arab Emiratis (UAE). They depict various social, political, economic, religious, and other day-to-day topics in a wryly humorous fashion with a socio-moral outcome as a part of the process of reproducing the Emirati group recognizability, thus consolidating their social citizenship (Silverstein 2003b: 538). Shaabiat Al-Cartoon [Paperboard Neighborhood] (SAC) (2006), is one of the earliest and most successful Emirati animated sitcoms in portraying the tapestry of the UAE’s ethnic, racial, sexual, religious, and linguistic diversity. As a popular television show during the month of Ramadan, it enjoys an unprecedented loyal fandom (Alriyadh 2014) (Abdul Hamid 2016), and internet forums to discuss its episodes and characters. Ultimately, its popularity makes it an essential tool to examine how this television show is generating a myriad of localized interpretations and negotiations of political dynamics and social nuances. Depending on the episode, it subtly challenges, or reproduces, or selectively furthers and complicates social personas in the Emirati society.
One of the significant recurrent themes in the show is gendered conflict talk. Through a multimodal analysis, I aim to contribute to discussions of gendered conflict talk by analyzing the strategic use of non-diglossic code-switching and the linguistic features that move verbal dueling to verbal attack. Previously, gendered conflict talk studies have focused on analyzing same-sex female talk practices in the natural occurrences of establishing power hierarchies (Goodwin 2002: 715) (Mendoza-Denton 2008). My contribution to linguistic anthropological literature is situating an examination of female conflict talk practices in a preconceived and produced setting in the form of an animated sitcom in the UAE. In this prefabricated orality, I focus on dialect-related humour, incongruity jokes, metapragmatic attacks, the function of threats, syntagmatic puns, repertoires, interjections, indexicality, and other linguistic forms in mediating gendered conflict talk. Following Webb Keane’s approach in interpreting social behavior by recognizing the social interpretation of the contextual sign work (Knight 2016: 48), I argue that a multimodal social semiotic performance can produce powerful effects on the co-production of identity. I demonstrate in my analysis how the producers of an episode of SAC, through the use of language and semiotic cues, attempt to reflect and shape the Emirati sociocultural values on pious gendered clothing and perceptions of modernity.