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The University of Southampton
Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

The discursive construction of moral agents among Latin American entrepreneurs in Elephant and Castle Seminar

17:00 - 18:30
17 February 2016
Building 65 Lecture Theatre C Avenue Campus SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Prof Clare Mar-Molinero at .

Event details

Part of the annual seminar series for the Centre for Mexico-Southampton Collaboration (MeXsu).

This paper examines stories gathered in sociolinguistic interviews with two Spanish-speaking Latin American entrepreneurs based in Elephant and Castle (Southwark, London) in light of the regeneration of the area and the displacement of many of the Latin American small businesses and residents therein. 

Through the voices of these two retailers, who represent relatively successful stories of economic migration and settlement, we analyse how they position themselves and other members of this ethnolinguistic group. The interviewees provide ‘canonical’ accounts of how and why members of the group ought to behave based on expected cultural and moral practices, especially working practices. They do this by positioning themselves as community pioneers on the basis of the length of time spent in the receiving society to gain status and wealth relative to other Latin Americans, especially relatively recent secondary migrants from Spain, and invoking moral values to evaluate others in the group and further distinguish themselves from them.

An interactional discourse analysis of how they construct themselves as moral migrant agents relative to others at such a critical moment highlights that one of the norms on which this community appears to be based holds that the best action is one that maximizes personal gain and that community relations are primarily forged by the personal beneficial consequences of members’ actions towards themselves and one another. These, in turn, are considered to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The paper contributes to our understanding of a relatively unexplored ethnic community within the diversity of London by reporting perceptions of the norms on which it is based.

All welcome.

Speaker information

Dr Adriana Patiño-Santos,My research interests include interactional sociolinguistics, language socialisation, intercultural communication and multilingualism. My research has been focussed on the relationship between Spanish and other languages within the framework of globalisation, from a sociolinguistic ethnographic perspective. I have concentrated on the social processes involved in interaction by focussing on the intersection between language, ideology and identity in institutional settings. In this regard, I have identified multilingual schools as key sites for my research, offering an ideal window through which to observe complex sociolinguistic situations.

Dr Rosina Marquez Reiter, University of Surrey. My research has primarily concentrated on cross-cultural pragmatics. A hallmark of my work has been the advancement of insights into the different cultural norms that underlie the appropriateness of conversational encounters in English and Spanish, including research into service encounters in diverse institutional contexts as well as politeness orientations.

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