Exploring Othering with intersectional feminist aspirations: between lived experiences and stand-up comedy

PhD Thesis

Souleh, N. Exploring Othering with intersectional feminist aspirations: between lived experiences and stand-up comedy. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Centre for Language and Linguistics
AuthorsSouleh, N.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

Storyline: This thesis’ explorations brings forward nuanced understandings of the concept of Othering through the analysis of different materials. The research is particularly important not only because it relates to the researcher’s life history and interests in researching inequalities, but also relevant in the current refugee crisis and the resurgence of xenophobia.

Data: The thesis draws on my reflexive turn and on empirical materials that includes; in-depth ethnographic interviews with five participants, my own autoethnographic and theoretical explorations. The autoethnographic writings include creative nonfiction and stand-up comedy materials. I label these autoethnographic writings as creative nonfiction for its overall literary style of writing. The study as a whole therefore is interdisciplinary, interpretative, qualitative inquiry that is grounded in my life history and ethnographic work to draw a comprehensible jigsaw of the constructions and the workings of Othering. The variety of data sources allows for an eclectic vision to understand the different levels that Othering operates on.

Presentation: Because of the complex nature of this research process, this work does not take on the “conventional” thesis structure. It moves between my own explorations of theoretical work and fieldwork with what may seem a personal style of writing. The diverse materials that I collected reflect my own reflexive turn during the research process. It also adds to the richness of the thick description of the ethnographic work that I carried as a mean of dissemination.

Theory: At its start, the research emerged in the light of three main theoretical fields: the intercultural, the postcolonial and the feminist. However, as it grew, the research held firmer grounds in the later waves of feminism; Intersectionality. Using intersectional feminist thought was befitting particularly as I embarked on unpacking colonial, societal and genderal discriminations that my participants and I stood in the intersect of it.

Originality: The contributions of my thesis and originality lays in the use of stand-up comedy materials as a source of data and as a research tool. I regard the use of this kind of material as an opportunity for a fresh acuity to the study of Othering; where reflections on the Self and the Other is discussed. It is through it that I introduce what I call platform shift; where the discussion about circles of exclusion is introduced. Platform shift is a reflection
of one’s fluid movements between essentialist and non-essentialist paradigm depending on what is convenient for the centre causing the inclusion or the exclusion of different Others.

In this doctoral project, I found that there are two recurrent images of the Other that I refer to as the savage and the ravish ends”. In both constructions, the Other is not considered in positive light. This builds up further to use dehumanising discourse to push the Other further towards the margin. I also found that the Other is constructed through visual and linguistics traits, and their image is strongly affected by the power shift. The visual traits may include inherited sources; such as racial features, or acquired sources such as the Muslim headscarf or fashion choices. The Other’s linguistic performance is also put to scrutiny and held in comparison to their identity. Such explorations also highlight how we negotiate our space, and how we move between different worlds and through conflicting narratives.

KeywordsExploring Othering; Intersectional feminist aspirations; Lived Experiences; Stand-up comedy
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Deposited16 May 2022
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Stone, S. and Souleh, N. 2020. هُوِيَّةُ (Huia).