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Gentrification and the Appropriation of Space in Brooklyn, New York


Seminariet arrangeras av nätverket Språk och rumslighet och ingår i forskningsområdet Språk i samhällskontext vid institutionen för språk och litteraturer. Alla intresserade är välkomna!


Gentrification and the Appropriation of Space in Brooklyn, New York.

In this talk I investigate creative discursive place-making strategies, by analysing semiotic landscapes (Jaworski & Thurlow 2010) and locals' descriptions of it in two different Brooklyn neighbourhoods, namely, Dumbo and Bushwick, both of which have been affected by gentrification processes (Trinch & Snajdr 2017) although at different paces and by diverse social agents. In the first part of my talk, I focus on place-making processes, which lead to enregistered (Agha 2003) and commodified spaces. Within the context of Dumbo, I look particularly at the semiotic landscaping of the Brooklyn Bridge Park and analyse the "artistic dividends" on display that are both temporary and permanent, but have been funded by one particular individual gentrifier. I analyze Deborah Kass's "OY/YO" multilingual and multimodal "language object" (Jaworski 2015) and employ a discourse analytic approach to Kass's interview, which was conducted in 2016.

The second part of this talk investigates graffscapes (Pennycook 2010: 64), as an art form that integrates graffiti letters with designs thus locating graffiti as part and parcel of how landscapes are "constructed, interactive, expressive, semiotic resources" in urban space where meaning is achieved rather than simply viewed as "immobile text on static city walls". I take a close look at the graffscapes of Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY and specifically attend to the multilingual street art commissioned by the Bushwick Collective, an outdoor gallery founded by a local resident.

The data for this study were collected over a five-year period (2011-2016) and consists of images and semi-structured interviews. Results from this study indicate how artwork through the use of both multilingual and multimodal dimensions and both mobile and fixed index an array of visually powerful socio-political messages relating to global capitalism and neoliberal regimes within the 21st century. Overall, my aim is to broaden the approach to semiotic landscape studies by placing a more prominent focus on architectural structures, semiotic objects and urban design in the creative process of shaping global landscapes.

Agha, A. (2003). The Social Life of Cultural Value. Language and Communication 23(3/4):231¿273.

Jaworski, A. & Thurlow, C. (Eds.) (2010). Semiotic landscapes: Language, image,space. London, UK: Continuum.

Jaworski, A. (2015). Word cities and language objects: ¿Love¿ sculptures and signs as shifters. Linguistic Landscapes 1,1¿2.

Pennycook, A. 2010. Language as a local practice. London: Routledge.

Trinch, S. & Snajdr, E. (2017). What the signs say: Gentrification and the disappearance of capitalism without distinction in Brooklyn. Journal of Sociolinguistics 21, 1, 64-89.



Kellie Gonçalves
Post-doctoral Research Fellow
Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan (MultiLing)
Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies
University of Oslo, Norway

Datum: 2017-05-23

Tid: 12:00 - 14:00

Kategorier: Forskning, Humaniora

Arrangör: institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Plats: Humanisten, Renströmsgatan 6

Kontaktperson: Johan Järlehed

Sidansvarig: |Sidan uppdaterades: 2013-02-06

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