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Through Their Lenses: Arab Minority Students' Reflections on the Israeli Linguistic Landscape through PhotoVoice

Research profile seminar, Lecture

Seminar within the research subject Arabic and the research area Language in Society, department of Languages and Literatures. All interested are welcome!

Research seminar with PhD Rawia Hayik, Sakhnin Academic College for Teacher Education, Israel

Although Arabic is the native language of fifth of the Israeli population, its representation in the Israeli linguistic landscape (LL) is problematic (Ben Rafael et al., 2006). This study invites members of the Arab minority to reflect on such linguistic reality through a research tool named PhotoVoice (Wang, Burris & Xiang, 1996). Grounded in critical literacy theory (Friere, 1970), the study provides a space for a group of Israeli-Arab college students from the English department at a teacher-education college in Northern Israel to reflect on the Israeli LL and voice their critique. The students captured photos of LLs, analyzed the messages embedded within (Shohamy, 2012), and wrote commentaries voicing their reflections. One of the categories students addressed was the abundance of mistakes in the Arabic words on top-down signs. A thematic analysis of students' ¿PhotoVoices¿ within this category revealed not only the linguistic reality in students' area, the ¿spatial practice¿ in Lefebvre's (1991) conceptualization of space, but also the ways it was experienced by them as local inhabitants, the ¿lived space¿ in Lefebvre's terms. What was evident in students' voices were strong emotions and statements highlighting themes of negligence, racism, and (intended) disrespect; collective identity; and the need for change. Sample projects will be shared with the seminar audience to shed light on students' profound cognitive and emotional perceptions as passers-by toward the LL and show the potential of PhotoVoice in developing awareness to the explicit and implicit messages delivered through the signs.


  • Ben Rafael, E., Shohamy, E., Amara, M. H. and Trumper-Hecht, N. (2006). Linguistic landscape as a symbolic construction of the public space: the case of Israel. International Journal of Multilingualism, 3(1), 7¿31.

  • Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Translated from Portuguese.

  • Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Shohamy, E. (2012). Linguistic landscapes and multilingualism. In M. Martin-Jones, A. Blackledge, & A. Creese, The Routledge handbook of multilingualism (pp. 538-551). New York: Routledge.

  • Wang, C., & Burris, M. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education and Behavior, 24, 369-387.

Date: 26 February 2020

Lecturer: PhD Rawia Hayik, Sakhnin Academic College for Teacher Education, Israel

Date: 2/26/2020

Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Categories: Humanities, Linguistics, Kulturstudier, Language, Research

Organizer: institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Location: Faculty of Arts, Lundgrensgatan 1B

Contact person: Johan Järlehed

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