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Conversations in Conflict Studies with Sylvia Sierra

400 Eggers Hall, the PARCC Conference Room

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The Construction of Group Identity in the Facebook Discourse of a Mexican Autodefensa.”  Guest Speaker: Sylvia Sierra, Assistant Professor, Department of Communications and Rhetorical Studies, Syracuse University. 

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) studies have primarily been restricted to analyzing mainstream political discourse and often right-wing or even fascist discourse. Meanwhile, Mautner (2005) notes that CDA has been reluctant to engage with computer-mediated communication (CMC) (Herring, 1996), while CMC scholars have not necessarily engaged with the socio-political contexts of data (Unger 2012).  CDA studies have only just begun to examine how social media networks can be an instrumental part of the discourse of resistance in political movements around the world (e.g., Chiluwa 2012). In this study, I combine a CDA framework with computer-mediated discourse analysis to investigate the emergent group identity of the Mexican autodefensa (self-defense) movement (2013 to present), a grassroots social and political movement formed by ordinary Mexican citizens to fight against drug cartel control. I analyze the discourse of one autodefensa’s Facebook page (autodefensa Sahuayo, Michoacán), showing how their group identity emerges online in opposition to the cartels via their performative construction of binarity, or positive self- and negative other-presentation, which relies on their increasingly explicit intensified nomination and predication of themselves and the cartels against which they are fighting as well as their topoi, or simplified arguments, regarding religion, family, and struggle which function to legitimize their actions offline. This CDA study shows how a Mexican autodefensa engages in discursive construction of group identity in a social media context. 

Conversations in Conflict Studies is a weekly educational speaker series for students, faculty, and the community. The series, sponsored by PARCC, draws its speakers from Syracuse University faculty, national and international scholars and activists, and PhD students. Pizza is served. Follow us on Twitter @PARCCatMaxwell, tweet #ConvoInConflict.

If you require accommodations, please contact Deborah Toole by email at datoole@syr.edu or by phone at 315.443.2367. 


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Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration
400 Eggers Hall