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Migration Studies Lecture: Christina Higgins

When Oct 18, 2017
from 04:00 PM to 05:30 PM
Where 160 Willard
Contact Name
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The Migration Studies Project is pleased to announce a lecture by

Christina Higgins
Department of Second Language Studies
University of Hawai'i at Manoa

"Assembling objects, signs, bodies, and spoken language in multimodal tourist service encounters: Illustrations from Hawai`i"


Abstract: Building on recent scholarship in ethnographic linguistic landscape studies (Blommaert, 2013),
multilingualism in marketplaces (Pennycook & Otsuji, 2015), and multimodality in service interactions
(Blackledge & Creese, 2017; Zhu Hua, 2017), this presentation shares current findings from an ongoing
research project that I have been conducting with my co-researcher, Maiko Ikeda (UH-Mānoa), that
examines tourist-host encounters in retail stores in Hawai`i. The goal of the research is to shed light on how
people with different linguistic resources accomplish meaning-making in their interactions through
assembling their multimodal and multilingual resources (Deleuze & Guattari, 1974). We analyze how
Japanese tourists and shop workers make use of the multimodal resources in their environment to convey
information about products and complete transactions. We draw on field notes and video data collected
over six months in tourist areas to show how objects, signs, and embodiment operate with reference to
spoken language in the spatial repertoires of service encounters. To illustrate how this assemblage works,
we use tools from multimodal discourse analysis (Norris, 2004), and we argue for a need to include
embodied forms of texts and signs into this field of study. While researchers have explored signs via
linguistic landscape studies, spatial repertoires through ethnographic approaches, and multimodality via
discourse analysis, these areas of study are typically separate foci in sociolinguistic research. Our research
draws attention to the increasing importance of embodiment involving signs, texts, and objects in research
on intercultural communication.

Dr. Christina Higgins is Professor at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa in the Department of
Second Language Studies and Co-director of the Charlene Junko Sato Center for Pidgin, Creole, and
Dialect Studies, which works to document, describe, and advocate for better understandings of
Pidgin,the creole language of Hawai`i and other historically stigmatized languages. She is a sociolinguist
who studies multilingual practices and identities among people who navigate local-global affiliations and
tensions. Much of her research has been in post-colonial contexts, including Tanzania and Hawaiʻi. Her
current projects include an ethnographic study of the emergence of new spatial repertoires in tourism
destinations in Hawai`i, focusing on the spread of Japanese tourists and language to new parts of Oʻahu,
and a narrative study of intergenerational family language transmission in Hawai`i, with attention to the
dynamic and varied ways that individuals claim cultural belonging.