Tag Archives: discourse analysis

New home, new clothes: the old ones no longer fit once you move to the country

By Rachael Wallis, University of Southern Queensland. First Published in The Conversation.

File 20190305 48426 124nxz4.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
City clothes mark the wearer as being out of place in the country. S_oleg/Shutterstock

What happens if you decide to jump in, Escape to the Country-style, and flee the city rat race?

Well, for a start, your identity begins to change in response to the new place around you. This change happens inside you, but is also reflected in the objects you surround and clothe yourself with.


Read more: How moving house changes you


My recent research looked at the stories of two women who moved from the city to the country and published books about their experiences. Hilary Burden moved from London to rural Tasmania and wrote about it in A Story of Seven Summers. Margaret Roach, author of And I Shall Have Some Peace There, moved from New York City to rural upstate New York. The two women tell the story of their moves, but at the same time, they narrate a journey of changing identity that is shared with others through the clothes they wear.

In memoirs such as these, the authors interpret the events they write about, but so does the reader, who brings their own understandings to their imagined experience. This allows readers to imagine a new way of living too, through the pages of the book. Through this, they might imagine their own SeaChange.

Clothes are part of our identity

When people get dressed each day, they let others know who they are, or who they think they are, in an identity-sharing performance. The clothes the authors discuss in the pages of their memoirs effectively map how their identity changed and how they shared this change with the people around them by wearing different styles of clothes from the ones they wore before. These items combine to produce a narrative that lets others understand those around them more clearly.

Most of the time people are not even aware that they are doing this. They just pick and choose the things they like from the vast array of options open to them.

Sometimes, however, it becomes clear that the clothes that once worked for a person just do not “fit” any more. This can happen in the process of life transformation, including moving from the city to the country the way these women did.

Roach had experienced a long and successful career at Martha Stewart Omnimedia. She knew how to dress for her professional role and had confidence in sharing her wealth and status through the expensive suits she bought. When she moved to the country, however, she could not dress in the same way. With her career behind her, she asked herself: “Who am I if I am not mroach@marthastewart dot com any longer?”

Unsure, and in pyjamas

This lack of clarity about her evolving identity is shown in the pyjamas she starts to wear during the day. Far from familiar terrain, and experiencing a state of flux and transition, Roach finds it simpler just to remain in her nightclothes and not have to figure out her new identity via the clothes she wears. Understanding this dilemma, Roach describes how her old way of living no longer fits her new self:

…like the wardrobe hanging in my closet, a vestige of a life left behind, it just doesn’t resemble me any longer.

She talks about how her clothes no longer fit, mentally or visually, with her new life in the country. With real insight, she writes:

The outside packaging … has to match what’s going on inside of me.

This understanding enables her to finally reconcile who she is to where she now lives. Once she negotiates this process, she is able to manage the transition of her clothing and visual identity to what works in her new country home.

Burden’s move across oceans starts a similar journey. She writes:

I knew I wanted to shed the stuff I associated with cities: suits … dressing up, being very important or busy or loud.

Country clothing is both more practical and an expression of identity. bernatets photo/Shutterstock

These had once enabled her to present and perform her class identity and status to others, but they no longer suited her work outside at a farmers’ market in rural Tasmania. Her clothes needed to fit the time and place she lived in, but she found they did not. These old clothes end up in garbage bags on a journey to the op shop, and Burden adapts to share her new identity through her clothes.

These memoirs offer a glimpse into lives and identities within the imaginative space they create, permitting identity to be shared through language and text. They show how moving to the country impacts identity, and how these people need to work through this process of change to adapt to their new life and feel comfortable in their new location.

Next time you contemplate moving to the country, just be sure to factor in the cost of a whole new wardrobe!

About the author: Rachael Wallis, Lecturer and Research Fellow, University of Southern Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Read more: Wallis, R. Self‐telling place, identity and dress in lifestyle migration memoirs. Area. 2019; 00: 1– 7. https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12540

X Marks The Spot: Chemtrails, Conspiracies & Discourse Analysis

By Morag Rose, University of Sheffield 

Sfc.contrail.1.26.01

NASA photograph of aircraft contrails, take from I-95 in Northern Virginia, January 26, 2001 by NASA scientist Louis Ngyyen.

The X-Files recently returned to television after a fourteen year absence. The Guardian provides a useful guide to the new series, which had mixed reviews and was accused of Islamophobia and Transphobia. As ever the show explores a range of paranormal phenomenon, folklore and contemporary conspiracy theories.  These may seem strange subjects for geographers to take an interest in but such stories are an integral part of society. For an exemplar, see Pile (2005) on phantasmagorias and the role dreams, magic, vampires and ghosts play in modern city life.

In an article published in The Geographical Journal, Rose Cairns explores the online world of “chemtrail” conspiracy narratives and asks what they can tell us about the international politics of geoengineering. Conspiracy theories are not new, and Cairns provides historical examples of the role they play in making sense of the world.  She highlights “the instability of the distinction between ‘paranoid’ and ‘normal’ views”, suggesting “moral outrage at the idea of global elites controlling the weather” should not simply be dismissed as irrational (2016:70). The reaction is provoked by many things including our emotional and visceral connections to the weather.

Geoengineering is often discussed as a possible intervention against climate change.  Perhaps fears around chemtrails can be seen as embodying a wider mistrust with authority, mainstream media and science which is seen as elitist and opaque. Belief is connected to scepticism about climate change and may indicate a failure to convey research in clear and understandable ways. As public engagement is perceived to be an increasingly important facet of academic communication, perhaps we should encourage conversations with those who provide alternative viewpoints. Cairns recognised this may be difficult when arguments are polarised and emotional.

Discourse analysis can draw contradictory narratives into a bigger picture that explains how and why belief systems develop within a society. You don’t have to agree with something to find it interesting, and it’s often illuminating to try and understand radically different perspectives. Cairns has been attacked for her work by “truthers” but we all need to keep questioning. We also need to refrain from dismissing anything that deviates from the hegemony simply because it sounds unbelievable to us. Just last week a former aide to President Nixon was quoted as saying, with regards to another alleged cover-up:  “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the (Vietnam) war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities…and vilify them night after night on the evening news” (Baum, 2016).

It is tempting to finish with a glib Mulder and Scully slogan that “the truth is out there” but reality is so often more complex and fantastic than fiction.

References

60-world2 Baum D 2016 Legalize It All: How to Win The War on Drugs Harpers March 2016 online at https://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/ (accessed 22.2.2016)

books_icon Cairns R  2016 Climates of Suspicion: “Chemtrail” Conspiracy Narratives and The International Politics of Geoengineering  The Geographical Journal 182: 1 pp 70-84 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geoj.12116/abstract

books_icon Pile S 2005  Real Cities Modernity, Space and the Phantasmagorias of Modern Life London: Sage Publications Ltd

60-world2 The Guardian  The X-Files Episode by Episode http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/series/the-x-files-episode-by-episode (accessed 22.2.2016)

For or against the social network?

by Jayne Glass

Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, has warned us this week that social networking is undermining the Web as we know it.  He argues that the storage of data behind virtual corporate walls, and the many deals being cut between content companies and telecoms operators, are threatening the founding principle of the Web: that systems should all work together based on sets of agreed, open standards.  Berners-Lee fears that these changes have begun to ‘chip away’ at the Web’s principles by walling off information posted by site users from the rest of the Web.  He also suggests that governments – totalitarian and democratic alike – are monitoring people’s online habits, which endangers important human rights.

However, in an early-view article in Area Dr Stewart Barr from the University of Exeter explores the great research potential embedded with the social networking phenomenon.   Barr recognises that internet discussion forums and other forms of virtual social networking media are increasingly being used as sites of discursive practice.  Using a large amount of text generated from an article in The Guardian about climate change and sustainable lifestyles, it is clear that the comments made about the article on the online discussion boards provide valuable insights into the social construction of the topic in question. Would Berners-Lee see this as an infringement of human rights?

Read Barr, S. (early view) ‘Climate forums: virtual discourses on climate change and the sustainable lifestyle. Area

 Read Tim Berners-Lee’s article in Scientific American