7th Mar 2012 4:30pm-6:00pm
Sallis Benney Theatre
“All that dark material”: A corpus-based analysis of representations of Muslim women in the British press
Dr Paul Baker
Reader in Corpus Based Discourse Studies
This talk examines the representation within the British Press of Muslim women who wear veils. 143 million words, consisting of 200,000 articles about Muslims in the national UK press between 1998 and 2009 were collected and examined using corpus linguistics techniques which aimed to identify frequent patterns of language use. The term "Muslim women" was highly frequent in the corpus (more so than "Muslim men") and Muslim women tended to be written about most in terms of veiling. I examined the extent to which Muslim women were positioned as being forced to wear the veil, whether they demanded to wear it, or whether it was viewed as a choice or a right. I looked at different types of arguments that journalists used against the veil, as well as metaphors that were used to describe veil-wearing women. The analysis suggests a disapproving yet conflicted stance across the UK press, and also raises questions about how analysts can claim that the press is negatively biased.