Discourse as virtue ethics: Muslim women in the American Southwest

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This article examines naturally occurring speech among participants in a young women’s halaqa, or study circle, at a mosque in the southwest United States to detail how “tactics of linguistic objectification” provide anchor points for ethical negotiations of difference. By focusing on linguistic micro-practices, including codeswitching and mock “foreign” accents, this paper brings a linguistic anthropological approach to bear upon this inquiry into discourse as a mode of phronesis. It is argued that, during informal conversation, core members of this group of largely second-generation immigrant women highlighted features of non-native English speech to monitor, examine, and mediate their own and their families’ hypervisibility as U.S. Muslims. As policy and public opinion paint a picture of Muslims as an existential threat to the west, these women’s language use, narratives and laughter act as in-group responses to social scrutiny that makes acknowledgement and normalization of Muslim difference obligatory. This article is published as part of a collection on discourse studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17026
JournalPalgrave Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Oct 2017


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