Most linguistic landscape research to date has focused on how people read and write language in the material world. Much less attention has been paid to the way linguistic landscapes sometimes read and write their inhabitants through technologies like CCTV cameras, intruder alarms, and other aspects of the built environment designed to make people ‘visible’ – what I call surveillant landscapes. This article puts forth a framework for analyzing the surveillant nature of linguistic landscapes based on tools from mediated discourse analysis. It sees surveillant landscapes in terms of the way they communicate practices of surveillance to the people who inhabit them (‘discourses in place’), the kinds of social relationships and social identities that they make possible (‘interaction orders’), and the ways architectures of surveillance come to be internalized by citizens, while at the same time aspects of their behaviors and identities come to be sedimented into their environments (‘historical bodies’). I argue that studies of linguistic landscapes should take more account of the agenitive nature of linguistic landscapes and their increasing ability to recognize and to entextualize what takes place within them, and the consequences of this both on situated social interactions and on broader political and economic realities.
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