Performing transculturation : between/within 'Japanese' and 'Australian' language, identities and culture

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This thesis examines the construction processes of language, culture and identities in relation to both the macro level of society and culture, as well as the micro-individual level. It argues that there is a need to understand these constructions beyond discrete notions of language, identities and culture. The thesis mobilises performativity theory to explore how exposure to a variety of practices during the life trajectory has an impact on the construction and performance of language, identities and culture. It shows how a theory of performativity can provide a comprehensive account of the complex process of, and the relationships between, hybridisation (engagement in a range of cultural practices) and monolithication (nostalgic attachments to familiar practices). The thesis also suggests that the deployment of performativity theory with a focus on individual biography as well as larger social-cultural factors may fill a gap left in some other modes of analysis such as Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Conversation Analysis (CA). Analysing data from four workplaces in Australia, the study focuses on trans-institutional talk, namely casual conversation in which people from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds work together. Following the suggestion (Pennycook 2003; Luke 2002) that there is a need to shift away from the understanding that a particular language is attached to a particular nation, territory and ethnicity, the thesis shows how discrete ethnic and linguistic labels such as ‘Japanese’ and ‘English’ as well as notions of ‘code-switching’ and ‘bi-lingualism’ become problematic in the attempt to grasp the complexity of contemporary transcultural workplaces. The thesis also explores the potential agency of subjects at the convergence of various discourses through iterative linguistic and cultural performances. In summary, the thesis provides deeper insight into transcultural performances to show the links between idiosyncratic individual performances and the construction of transcultural linguistic, cultural phenomena within globalisation.
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