Article published in:Language and Citizenship: Broadening the agenda
Edited by Tommaso M. Milani
[Benjamins Current Topics 91] 2017
► pp. 65–88
‘They look into our lips’
Negotiation of the citizenship ceremony as authoritative discourse
The British citizenship ceremony marks the legal endpoint of the naturalisation process. While the citizenship ceremony may be a celebration, it can also be a final examination. Using an ethnographically-informed case study, this article follows one candidate, ‘W’, through the naturalisation process in the UK. W is a migrant Yemeni at the end of the naturalisation process. Bakhtin’s notion of “ideological becoming” offers an analytic orientation into how competing discourses may operate. This article focuses on the role of what Bakhtin describes as “authoritative discourse” in the citizenship ceremony, in particular the Oath/Affirmation of Allegiance which citizenship candidates are required to recite. Success in the ceremony is dependent on how individuals negotiate authoritative discourse. This study follows W and highlights the complexities and negotiations of authoritative discourse in a citizenship ceremony.
Published online: 09 June 2017