Seminar announcement: December 16th

The ‘Language at Leeds’ Postgraduate Research Group (L@L PGR) is pleased to invite all interested postgraduates and staff to attend the group’s second seminar of this academic year on Wednesday 16th December, 4pm-5pm.

This session will include one research paper:

  •  Joyce Wambura, PhD student, Department of Languages & Linguistics, York St John University: An Analysis of Gendered Discourses in Female Circumcision Songs in Kuria, Kenya


Gender inequality is a global issue affecting women and girls in different parts of the world; efforts to realise equality between men and women are being hindered by sociocultural factors and traditional beliefs about gender roles and behavioural expectations in different societies. In this paper, I analyse three female circumcision songs to investigate how particular gender discourses are articulated and whether they sustain or challenge Kuria beliefs on gender relations, roles and expectations. These songs are part of a larger data set collected during the 2014/2015 circumcision ceremonies in Kuria, Kenya. They were audio recorded, transcribed and translated from Kuria into English. I use critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 2003; Sunderland 2004; Lazar 2005) to analyse the songs as cultural and linguistic practices, focusing particularly on how social actors are represented.  I identify traditional gendered discourses in the songs and examine how Kuria men and women are constructed and how these representations perpetuate gender imbalances and asymmetrical power relations. Initial findings reveal that male dominance and female subordination is the norm: gendered discourses are prevalent with, for instance, women being constructed as mothers, cooks, actively adorning themselves, caring and nurturing while men are active in war, administration and leadership, hunting and offering sacrifices. Men are involved in productive activities that take place away from home or outside the house while women are active in reproductive activities that are mostly within domestic spheres. I argue that the linguistic choices made are consciously selected to disseminate the stereotypical gender related ideologies and maintain the status quo. The goal of the paper is to raise awareness of how gender ideologies and unequal positioning of men and women are perpetuated through discourse with the ultimate goal being to challenge these ideologies as an initial step towards creating a just and equal society.

The seminar will take place between 4pm and 5pm on Wednesday 16th December. All the meeting will take place in The Coach House, Hillary Place, School of  Education Building.

The L@L PGR group draws together postgraduate students from across the University and acts as an intellectual forum for those students in disciplines where any aspect of language is central to their research.

If you are interested in presenting at the Language at Leeds seminar, please find more details here.

We look forward to seeing everyone there.

The L@L PGR Organisers.


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