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Title: The representations of Islam and Muslims at the United Nations General Assembly, 2013-2016 : a corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis
Author: Al-Anbar, Khaled Abdullah Nayef
ISNI:       0000 0004 8509 8464
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis grew out of a sense that there is a timely need to investigate the representational dimension of language and ways in which ideologies are discursively constructed around a much-debated social group that captured global public concern in recent years. Through a specifically tailored discourse-analytical approach, the research combines Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Corpus Linguistics (CL) to analyse a 1,627,000-word corpus of 787 political speeches delivered at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) between 2013-2016. The value of conducting this investigation stems from the observation that divisive rhetoric has become increasingly acceptable in political dialogue around Islam and Muslims following the rise of (a) ISIS and its likes which claim to represent the religion and (b) right-wing populism in Europe. Less academic attention is given to investigating and critiquing the representations of Islam and Muslims in discourses delivered by key political leaders at global leading institutions like the United Nations, certainly not from a linguistic standpoint. It is in this particular context of knowledge gap that this study wishes to contribute. With the help of CL, this predominantly qualitative investigation draws upon CDA as a theoretical stance and a methodological path to conduct in-depth analyses of the wider effects of bringing religion as an object of debate in international politics. The large data corpus allows me to explore the most frequently recurring representations which become naturalised and get disseminated through political discourse as a crucial vehicle of transmission. Some of the analytical methods applied in this study included Halliday’s SFL, the DHA associated with the Vienna school of CDA and van Leeuwen’s socio-semantic theories of legitimation. Analyses unveil that the representations of Islam and Muslims in the discourses of the UNGA are seen as connected to wider depictions including those appearing in media portrayals and other political discourses outside the UN. The studied political statements debated views about (a) the religion itself (b) the threat of extremism, and (c) the challenges of Islamophobia. The thesis concludes by considering the implications of the research findings then provides several recommendations to embrace discourses that promote co-existence and challenge ones that provide sustenance to the ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis and the politics of fear it promulgates.
Supervisor: Zotzmann, Karin ; Bernasek, Lisa M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available