Wednesday Seminar: Linguistic and semiotic resources in the social practice of mourning ceremonies: The case of Shiite Muslims in Iran

Dr Dariush Izadi will give a talk on the social practice of mourning rituals

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Linguistic and semiotic resources in the social practice of mourning rituals: The case of Shiite Muslims in Iran


Funeral and mourning rites capture so many aspects of the Iranian traditional and religious rituals and provide members of society with cultural tools of lamenting the dead. These mourning rituals and expressions of grief and solace warrant a systematic adjustment to human loss rituals. The death of a family member, for example, is not simply a biological event mourned by the bereaved relatives. Rather, that death arouses moral and social obligations that are communicated through socio-culturally and linguistically determined funeral practices. Following Durkheim (1915/1995), rituals should not primarily be viewed as expressions and communications of religious experiences and notions, but as expressions of “social” experiences, ie of communal life and common ideas.The current study presents cultural and societal considerations in connection with social space, linguistic interactions and, social action and semiotic resources of rituals used in the social practice of mourning ceremonies for Shiite Muslims in the city of Nur, located on the Caspian Sea in Mazandaran Province of northern Iran. The paper relies on a mediated discourse analysis approach (Scollon, 2001) as a theoretical model from which to develop a semiotic analysis of the linguistic / non-linguistic practices and mediational means that appear in the mourning events and death notices under scrutiny.To this end, I shall draw upon death notices and a corpus (recorded interactions of mourning rituals and obituaries) personally collected at the deceased's and at funerals, where relatives and friends typically gather to mourn the deceased. The paper demonstrates that while mourning rituals are culturally and religiously framed in Shiite Muslims, to those contexts of communication, one must include the social space, the discourse cycle, the trajectory of the material resource (mediational tools) appropriated for the purposes of mourning, the trajectory of individual social actor (habitus) - their bodies, their physical appearances, their movements, and ways of doing and even ways of crying (produced endogenously) and the trajectory of text.The study concludes that a mediated discourse analysis of the social practices embedded in the mourning events in question and the historical and cultural context that underpin such events provides a finer understanding of specific social practices and actions and local material contexts,


About the speaker

Dariush Izadi holds a PhD in Sociolinguistics from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and teaches Language and Linguistics Research Methods, Sociolinguistics, Discourse Analysis and TESOL Units at Western Sydney University. In his work, he applies mediated discourse and nexus analysis to investigate practices and methods through which participants accomplished their social actions in social settings. His research interests include Mediated discourse analysis, multimodal discourse analysis, linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, human geography, conversation analysis and interactional sociolinguistics. He has authored articles in the Journal of Multimodal Communication, Social Semiotics, Journal of Pragmatics, and Journal of Linguistic Landscapes.He has recently published a book entitled “The Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Interactions: A Case Study of an Ethnic Grocery Shop” with Palgrave Macmillan (UK). He has also published chapters in Critical Inquiries in the Studies of Sociolinguistics of Globalization with Multilingual Matters (USA) and The Sociolinguistics of Iran's Languages ​​at Home and Abroad: The Case of Persian, Azerbaijani, and Kurdish with Palgrave Macmillan (UK).

Published Nov. 23, 2020 11:59 AM - Last modified Nov. 27, 2020 10:32 AM