When scholars generally talk of “circulation,” the focus is usually on the movement and introduction of a particular “something” into a new context, where that “something” is imbued with new meanings while also retaining aspects of its previous location. This is particularly evident when we introduce others and ourselves to new people. “Introductions,” as discourse genres, are significant sites for understanding circulation on two levels. First, an examination of the genre allows scholars to investigate how social actors construct an object—or complex sign (a self)—for circulation from one group or network to the next. Second, such an examination provides an opportunity to understand how persons use various strategies of introductions to co-coordinate the circulation of particular social positions and position-takings from one communicative context into another. Indeed, there is much at stake beyond simply getting to know new people.
Despite the importance and ubiquitous nature of this practice in widely diverse communities, introductions have been understudied and undertheorized by anthropologists and scholars in related fields. Thus, this panel aims to add to previous studies by incorporating linguistic, discursive, and ethnographic perspectives on introductions among various cultures/groups and their ethnopragmatic notions of selves. More broadly, we seek to locate introductions as a pathway into examining questions of (a) what people can circulate in terms of identities, (b) who can restrict and enable circulation by way of introductions, and (c) how people do such restricting and enabling as part of broader social, cultural and political projects of circulating identities, power, and bodies. Additionally, our goal is to understand how this particular communicative event is interdiscursive with other genres in which people talk about and, thereby, circulate a “self” as a complex semiotic sign within power-laden contexts.
To achieve these conceptual goals, we invite scholars from diverse conceptual and methodological backgrounds to submit papers that explore introductions in this light. Papers can include data from everyday and institutional talk or computer-mediated communication. We also welcome submissions that focus on children and adolescents. Additionally, we encourage submitters to consider analyses that take into account the role of the audience in co-authoring introductions.
If you are interested in participating in this panel, please send a 200 word abstract to Nathaniel Dumas by March 15th, 2010.