Mobility, immobility, and sexual transaction: Dirty socio-pragmatics in Cambodia

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This study focuses on the performance of a small story by a Cambodian man discussing transactional same-sex relationship practices between local men and globally mobile men from the global north, who pass through as visitors. In doing so, this study examines how metropole and southern experiences of space and time (i.e. chronotopes) intersect and become entangled. It therefore reveals a process in which the use of language shapes a negotiation of power and agency. The empirical data presented here form part of a larger linguistic ethnographic project, conducted with local men in a major Cambodian tourist city, that sought to explore the discursive conditions that inform and enable these relationship practices. Utilizing a positioning analysis of a small story, as performed in interaction with one of the researchers (a white, middle-class, queer man from the global north), the broader analysis draws attention to the socio-pragmatic awareness of these local men in the telling of their stories. This encompasses the positioning of selves and others across space and time through the invocation of relevant and affective historicities, to justify sexual transaction in this setting. In these cases, the analysis reveals more broadly how subjugated knowledges may permit immobile populations to actively shape the “stayed in” and “local” context to better suit their own needs, manipulating the globally mobile, metropolitan middle class for personal gain. By asking where agency lies in these interactions and how gender and sexuality play a role, we can begin to challenge assumptions about agency, awareness, and power and how they are accessed in multiple ways in a globally southern context. The presentation will also examine implications of chronotopes for a ‘dirty’ socio-pragmatic analysis, one that ‘talks back’ to potentially universalizing chronotopic theories in a necessarily messy cross- fertilization of ideas in the margins.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 16th International Pragmatics Conference
PublisherInternational Pragmatics Association (IPrA)
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
EventThe 16th International Pragmatics Conference - Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Duration: 9 Jun 201914 Jun 2019


ConferenceThe 16th International Pragmatics Conference


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