Positioning in Somali narratives in the Saldanha bay municipality area on the west coast of South Africa

Swanepoel, Lehahn Searle (2011-12)

Thesis (MPhil )--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study is interested in discourses of displacement in which migrants articulate the experience of seeking improved life chances in a community considerably removed from their place of origin. Not only physical and environmental distance, but also distance related to cultural, linguistic and religious differences distinguish the (im)migrants from the local indigenous population, which is already a culturally and linguistically diverse community. This study investigates how histories of displacement and experiences of alienation or integration may be discursively managed among a group of young Somali males aged between 15 and 35 who entered South Africa in their late teens or early twenties. Specifically, this thesis considers how young Somali men who relocated to a rural Western Cape town and make a living through trading, present themselves in English-language narratives elicited during informal interviews. The study was conducted in Vredenburg, the administrative centre and economic hub of the Saldanha Bay Municipal area on the West Coast of South Africa. The data for the study was collected by means of audio recorded interviews. To supplement this data and gain more perspective on the situatedness of the discourses, the researcher further relied on field notes as well as additional informal conversations with the participants. The data was collected over a period of five months in 2007. To analyse the data, the researcher draws on the theoretical frameworks of Labov's structural analysis of narratives and Wodak and Reisigl's (2001) discourse-historical approach, and Bamberg's (1997) narrative constructivist perspective. The research aims to determine (i) how the narrators construct themselves in their narratives, and (ii) how speakers position themselves towards the content of their narratives, and towards their actual and imagined audiences. This study shows that displacement brings about new contexts characterised by uncertainty, conflict and inequalities, and this influences the way narrators orient themselves. The Somali narrators, in interviews conducted in English with a community outsider, position themselves as displaced and marginalised. During their narratives, the participants used several linguistic strategies to present themselves in various ways to actual or imagined audiences, which lead to negative otherpresentation and positive self-presentation and construction of in-group and out-group membership.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie fokus op diskoerse van ontworteling waarin migrante hul ervaring verwoord van ’n soeke na beter lewensgeleenthede in ’n gemeenskap ver verwyderd van hul plek van herkoms. Buiten vir die fisiese en omgewingsafstand, is daar ook afstand daargestel deur kulturele, linguistiese en godsdiensverskille, wat die (im)migrante onderskei van die plaaslike bevolking – op sigself ’n kultureel en linguisties diverse gemeenskap. Hierdie studie doen ondersoek na hoe geskiedenisverhale oor ontworteling en ervarings van vervreemding of integrasie diskursief bestuur kan word binne ’n groep jong Somaliese mans van 15 tot 35 jaar wat Suid-Afrika in hul laat tienerjare of vroeë twintigerjare binnegekom het. Die tesis fokus spesifiek op hoe jong Somaliese mans wat na ’n plattelandse Wes-Kaapse dorp migreer het en ’n handelsbestaan voer, hulself voorstel in Engelstalige narratiewe wat ontlok is tydens informele onderhoude. Die studie is gedoen in Vredenburg, die administratiewe en ekonomiese kern van die Saldanhabaai Munisipale Area aan die Weskus van Suid-Afrika. Die data vir die studie is ingesamel deur middel van klankopnames van onderhoude. Ten einde dié data aan te vul en meer perspektief te verkry ten opsigte van die plasing van die diskoerse, het die navorser verder gesteun op veldnotas sowel as bykomende informele gesprekke met die deelnemers. Die data is oor ’n tydperk van vyf maande in 2007 versamel. In die ontleding van die data maak die navorser gebruik van die teoretiese raamwerke van Labov se strukturele analise van narratiewe en Wodak en Reisigl (2001) se diskoers-historiese benadering, asook Bamberg (1997) se narratief-konstruktivistiese perspektief. Die navorsing het ten doel om vas te stel (i) hoe die vertellers hulself in hul narratiewe konstrueer, en (ii) hoe sprekers hulself posisioneer ten opsigte van die inhoud van hul narratiewe en ten opsigte van hul werklike en denkbeeldige gehore. Hierdie studie toon dat ontworteling nuwe kontekste skep wat gekenmerk word deur onsekerheid, konflik en ongelykhede en ’n invloed het op die wyse waarop vertellers hulself orienteer. Tydens onderhoude met ’n gemeenskapsbuitestaander, uitgevoer in Engels, posisioneer die Somaliese vertellers hulself as ontwortel en gemarginaliseer. In hul narratiewe gebruik hulle verskeie linguistiese strategieë om hulself op verskillende maniere voor te stel aan werklike en denkbeeldige gehore wat lei tot ’n negatiewe voorstelling van die Ander, ’n positiewe voorstelling van die Self en die daarstelling van binne- en buite-groep lidmaatskap.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17879
This item appears in the following collections: