Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Discursive transformation: The emergence of ethnolinguistic identity among Latin American labor migrants and their children in Israel
by Paz, Alejandro Ivan, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2010, 339; 3408663
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation traces how undocumented, non-Jewish Latin American labor migrants and their children in Israel are transformed into a group which is conscious that their ethnic distinction is related to their discourse, a process which simultaneously transforms their discourse. In the last two decades, non-Jewish labor migration from many parts of the world has completely changed Israel’s labor market and socio-space. In considering the Latinos discursive transformation, the dissertation follows several twentieth-century theoretical trajectories which have studied how the emergence of a sociologically-distinct group is accompanied by, and indeed crystallizes in, the equally emergent process of constituting registers and genres. Following a linguistic anthropological concern with textuality, it takes an explicitly Bakhtinian look at questions of Latinos’ discursive shifts in multilingual domestic settings (e.g., codeswitching and borrowing), of their relation to the public circulation of gossip, and of their relation to a larger, news-mediated Israeli public. Each of these aspects are studied ethnographically, using a combination of participation, interviewing, and recordings of interaction, in Latino homes and social organizations, as well as in Israeli NGOs which advocate for labor migrants vis-à-vis the state. In each case, the effort is to site Latinos’ ethnolinguistic emergence in the broader multiplicity of processes of Israeli heteroglossia. The dissertation in essence seeks to describe and help theorize this multiplicity, and the cross-cutting processes of the enregisterment of ethnicity, modernity, and diaspora that are most at play in the constitution of Latinos’ sense of themselves as distinct in Israel, as well as in the Israeli public recognition of native Hebrew-speaking “children of foreign workers” as potential citizens.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Silverstein, Michael
Commitee: Dahlstrom, Amy, Friedman, Victor A., Gal, Susan, Lomnitz, Claudio
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Anthropology and Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Cultural anthropology, Middle Eastern Studies, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Bilingualism, Diaspora, Discursive transformation, Ethnolinguistic identity, Israel, Labor migrants, Latin America, Latin American, Media
Publication Number: 3408663
ISBN: 9781124050935
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