School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

LingLunch | Stamatina Katsiveli-Siachou (QMUL)

5 June 2019

Time: 1:00 - 2:00pm
Venue: ArtsTwo 3.16

How to do the opposite of what you say: interactionally emergent gender normativities in a well-intentioned news interview

In the last five years LGBT activism in Greece has achieved several goals regarding legal representation of gender/sexual minorities and the reconsideration of sexual citizenship. The growing visibility, promising though it is, has stimulated a series of debates in the media and elsewhere which, implicitly or explicitly, constitute gender and sexual normativities as foundational to religious and, ultimately, national narratives. Within this conflicting context between rights recognition, on the one hand, and intensified Greek (homo/trans-phobic) nationalism, on the other, two transgender activists were interviewed on the occasion of the new gender recognition law (October 2017).

My goal in this paper is to unpack underlying discourses that are at play during the interview as these are reflected in the interactional strategies of participants. Remaining on the micro-level of analysis, I adopt a conversational analytic perspective in order to explore the ways in which interlocutors’ actions are designed and organized in interaction. Among others, I focus on agreement/disagreement practices (Pomerantz 1984), strategies for neutrality (Clayman 1991) and the multiple functions that questions serve within question-answer sequences (Clayman & Heritage 2002), as these are dictated by the institutionality of the event (Greatbatch 1988).

I argue that interlocutors’ strategies index broader sociopolitical stances of theirs, occasionally contradicting what is actually being said. In this sense, the analysis reveals invisible ideological links between the what and how of interaction, thus underlining the worthiness of nuanced interactional approaches to the examination of sexual and gender discourses (see also Kitzinger 2000).