This year's Walter Murray Lecture series will be presented by our own Dr Jennifer Saul, from Friday March 26-27th.
The public talk on Friday March 26th titled "Figleaves and Their Kin: Mechanisms for Getting Away With Racist Speech" will touch on political psychology, sociolinguistics, and the philosophy of language.
"It used to be accepted wisdom that overt, explicit expressions of racism would doom a national political campaign in the US or the UK. Recent years have seen this wisdom overturned with the rise of the racist, xenophobic far right. This paper uses pragmatics to explore the mechanisms and developments that have enabled this change in acceptable discourse, drawing on work in political psychology, sociolinguistics, and philosophy of language. The mechanisms include utterances from politicians like fig leaves, that lend deniability to overt expressions of racism. They also include ones specifically related to a new sort of conversational context-- social media. This context is one that upends many of our old assumptions about how conversations work, providing new methods of deniability, but also new methods of altering mass opinion, and new barriers to challenging overt expressions of racism."
For full details and to join the meeting on Webex, see the University of Saskatchewan's department page.