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LINGUIST List 20.27

Mon Jan 05 2009

Diss: Disc Analysis/Socioling: Shenk: 'Historical Conflict in ...'

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        1.    Petra Shenk, Historical Conflict in Present-Day Interaction: Discursive social action and decision-making for the future of the Chehalis River Watershed


Message 1: Historical Conflict in Present-Day Interaction: Discursive social action and decision-making for the future of the Chehalis River Watershed
Date: 05-Jan-2009
From: Petra Shenk <petra.shenkgmail.com>
Subject: Historical Conflict in Present-Day Interaction: Discursive social action and decision-making for the future of the Chehalis River Watershed
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Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Program: Linguistics Department
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Petra Scott Shenk

Dissertation Title: Historical Conflict in Present-Day Interaction: Discursive social action and decision-making for the future of the Chehalis River Watershed

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
                            Sociolinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Mary Bucholtz
John Haviland
John Du Bois
Sandra A. Thompson

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the discursive intersection between
progress, consensus, and history in the interactional mediation of conflict
and decision making through an examination of watershed management
discourse. I identify the semiotic linkages between language, social
action, and identity in discourse that emerges during state-authorized
watershed planning meetings of the Chehalis Basin Partnership, a
collaborative planning unit that facilitates management between stakeholder
groups.

Drawing on a year of ethnographic fieldwork and 123 hours of audio-recorded
data, I analyze approximately 25 hours of organizational meeting
interaction. I also draw on participant observation, informal interviews
and discussions with members of the Chehalis Basin Partnership and community.

I begin by tracing the historical and discursive pathways of seemingly
disparate documents that inform Partnership policy and action. I
demonstrate how a contemporary document is an accumulation of history by
virtue of being a collection of entextualizations and illustrate that when
historical documents are taken up in contemporary contexts they can mediate
different social actions than originally intended. I develop the notions of
textual transcendence, a process whereby past documents and specific
entextualized language from them are used to mediate future social action,
and intertextual network, a grouping of seemingly disparate documents which
over time have become linked ideologically, practically, and/or legally. I
further illustrate how conflict is interactionally managed using strategies
that accomplish the social action of preemptive conflict management. Rather
than addressing the historical roots of a regional conflict when it arises,
Chehalis Basin Partnership participants maintain consensus and motivate
progress by engaging in discourse that legitimizes and delegitimizes
certain participants' identities and sociopolitical positions.

This dissertation illustrates how historical facts are discursively
displaced by contemporary facts and how the relevance of a historically
conflictive relationship is displaced by the organizational importance of
present planning and progress. Although the origins of
natural-resource-based conflict may not be directly linked to language, the
manifestation of conflict as well as its resolution, mediation, or other
tactic for addressing it certainly is. Therefore, I demonstrate the
importance of examining language about the environment as a set of
resources for social action that are sometimes collaborative and sometimes
conflictive.



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