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Critique Essay Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Commentary I: ‘It’s a hijra’! Queer linguistics revisited

By Kira Hall, 2013

In a review of contributions to a special issue of Discourse & Society on queer linguistics, this article argues that the concept of indexicality, as theorized across diverse fields in sociocultural linguistics, has the potential to offer a much richer account of subjectivity than found in dominant strands of queer theory. While queer theory valorizes practice over identity, viewing the latter as fixed and necessarily allied with normativity, research on language and social interaction suggests that an analytic distinction between practice and identity is untenable. The indexical processes that work to produce social meaning are multi-layered and always shifting across time and space, even within systems of heteronormativity. It is this semiotic evolution that should become the cornerstone of a (new) queer linguistics.

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