Vol 7 No 1 (2016)

Polyphonic Approaches to Race in Discourse Analysis

Rena Hamstra Dam
Athabasca University
Open Door - Suchak
Published February 11, 2016


The ways in which we talk and write about the constructs of race and ethnicity are influenced by our societal systems, which tend to serve the more powerful and create a monologic discourse. Taking a post-colonial perspective on the history of how discourse analysis has treated “race talk” illuminates many larger societal issues as they are reflected in our language use, symbolism and structures. Discourse analysis itself can be seen as a ‘third space’ in which multiple voices can be heard and interrelate. This article gives an interdisciplinary overview of four important ways that discourse analysts approach race and ethnicity and the grounding of that study in a post-colonial perspective. In particular, I’ve highlighted Bakhtin’s theory of ‘double voiced discourse’ as a possible future direction to move from homophonic to polyphonic discourse about ethnicity and race theory. Discourse analysis, race theory, post-colonial studies, polyphony, ethnicity.