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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 36, Issue 3


Migrant narratives of dis/emplacement: The alternative spatialization and ethnicization of the local urban floor

Maria Sabaté-Dalmau
Published Online: 2016-04-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2016-0013


From a critical sociolinguistic approach, this paper analyzes the stories of place and locality which emerge during a series of narrative interviews conducted with a small group of Ghanaian migrants who, unsheltered, lived on a bench in a public transport area on the outskirts of a Catalan urban town. By understanding narratives as situated interactional events with which both the researcher and the researched negotiate, shape and co-construct storyworlds, I focus on the social meanings of the stories of geographic (and socioeconomic) dis/emplacement whereby migrants strategically present their spatial orientations in town, which include largely unknown social networking sites. I complement their narrated in-group “safe mooring” spaces and their out-group zones of “mismeeting” with guided co-ethnographic visits to these selected locations. I claim that the imbrication of stories of dis/location with collaborative multi-site ethnography contributes to the study of the migrants’ alternative spatialization and ethnicization of their host societies, and to the discovery of alternative localities which challenge some conceptions about migrants’ (im)mobility practices and identity management in new urban geographies. These may broaden our understandings of how they make sense of their transnational survival experiences in contexts of extreme precariousness, from a dialogical, participant-oriented, reflective perspective.

Keywords: narrative inquiry; mobile ethnography; dis/emplacement stories; migration; identity; Catalonia


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About the article

Maria Sabaté-Dalmau

Maria Sabaté-Dalmau (MA in Linguistic Anthropology, The University of Toronto; PhD in English Studies, Autonomous University of Barcelona) is currently lecturer at the University of Lleida, where she conducts research on multilingualism and migrations from a critical sociolinguistic ethnographic perspective. She is author of Migrant Communication Enterprises: Regimentation and Resistance (2014, Multilingual Matters).

Published Online: 2016-04-30

Published in Print: 2016-05-01

Funding: This study was funded by two research grants awarded by the Catalan Department of Economy and Knowledge and by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The former was granted to the research group Applied Linguistics Circle (CLA) at the University of Lleida, and the latter to the research group Intercultural Communication and Negotiation Strategies (CIEN) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 36, Issue 3, Pages 269–293, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2016-0013.

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