Ethnicity in discourse: the interactional negotiation of ethnic boundaries in post-apartheid Namibia

Gerald Stell, Tom Fox

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


To what extent can ethnic boundaries be transcended in interethnic interactions? We are tackling this question in reference to Namibia, a post-apartheid society marked by a legacy of ethnic and racial divisions. Relying on discourse as a source of data, we identify the strategies employed by Namibians in a range of interview data and semi-experimental interethnic interactions for either accentuating or attenuating interethnic boundaries. We identify these strategies at the levels of ethnic categorization, language choice/variation and the management of speaker turns, and place them in the perspective of the participants' perspectives on ethnic Others. Our findings suggest that ethnic categories are salient in our data, although they do not exclude identification with superordinate categories in specific contexts. Our findings also show that patterns of categorization are reflected in language choice and turn management in the interactional context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)976-992
Number of pages17
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • code-switching
  • discourse
  • ethnicity
  • Namibia
  • race
  • sociolinguistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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