Diplomacy in Entertainment: Membership Categorization in a Thai Talk Show

Author: Gabriele KASPER (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)
Patharaorn PATHARAKORN (Chulalongkorn University)
Speaker: Gabriele KASPER, Patharaorn PATHARAKORN (Chulalongkorn University)
Topic: Linguistic Anthropology
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


In news and entertainment media in the Asian region, ‘foreigners’ make an increasing appearance, for instance in the popular TV show Abnormal Summit in South Korea. Arguably the discursive representations of ‘foreigners’ in the media both reflect and shape contemporary culture and therefore invite the attention of linguistic anthropologists and researchers in cognate disciplines. A longstanding interest in the topic can be seen in Japan, where Nishizaka’s (1999) groundbreaking study on the discursive construction of the henna gaijin (‘weird foreigner’) in a radio show paved the way for recent research on the representation of ‘foreigners’ in TV talk shows (Fukuda, 2017) and variety shows (Furukawa, 2016). Our study extends this line of investigation to the broadcast media landscape of Thailand. Specifically we examine a segment in the variety show เจาะข่าวตื้น (‘Shallow News in Depth’) on the YouTube channel Spoke DarkTV that features an interview between the show’s host and a prominent foreign diplomat. Adopting the theoretical and methodological perspectives of Membership Categorization Analysis (Fitzgerald & Housley, 2015; Sacks, 1972) and multimodal Conversation Analysis (Goodwin, 2000; Mondada, 2014), we will show how the participants collaboratively treat the guest as incumbent of a variety of categories that evoke his epistemic authority in diverse domains and reflexively produce different activities during the show. The categorizations are accomplished through sequentially mobilized multisemiotic practices and enhanced for the viewing audience through sound effects and impact captions.


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Keywords: conversation analysis, foreigner, media, membership categorization analysis, multimodality, Thailand