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The everyday life of sexual politics: A feminist critical discourse analysis of herbalist pamphlets in Johannesburg

Journal article
Authors Megan Edwards
Tommaso M. Milani
Published in Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Volume 32
Pages 461-481
ISSN 16073614
Publication year 2014
Published at
Pages 461-481
Language en
Subject categories Media and Communications, Gender Studies, General Language Studies and Linguistics, Languages and Literature


This article investigates a corpus of herbalist pamphlets – fairly common, everyday texts found in (South) African cities – which promote the services of traditional healers and promise solutions to a plethora of ailments and life problems. The article's multi-pronged approach brings feminist critical discourse analysis (FCDA), corpus linguistics (CS) and multimodal critical discourse studies (MCDS) into dialogue with each other. Encompassing both quantitative and qualitative components, this eclectic framework illustrates the ways in which dominant gendered discourses reproduce a patriarchal and heteronormative order by positioning men and women differently. This dominant form of gendered representation, however, co-exists with more resistant discourses which positively thematise same-sex desire. Essentially, the article demonstrates that herbalist pamphlets are key sites of ‘entanglement’ (Nuttall 2009) where complex identity nexuses of gender, sexuality, race, age and culture intersect and compete with each other within the larger regime of representation in South Africa.

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