Using Silence to 'Pass': Embodiment and Interactional Categorization in a Diasporic Context

L. Wagner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article posits that "passing" is a manipulation of ambiguously embodied characteristics, linguistic practice, and ratification by other speakers. I explore discourses and practices of "passing" by post-migrant generation, diasporically-resident Moroccans who seek to be unmarked by migration when bargaining in Moroccan markets. Their attempts have many possibilities for failure, including any way that their diasporic provenance might be made relevant in interaction through their embodied and linguistic practices. This connection between embodiment and linguistic practices becomes more evident in a unique case of bargaining "success", which depends on using silence. Framed by all the possible ways to fail, the main interactional example is exceptional because of its success-by-not-failing: the diasporically-resident participant was not conversationally, explicitly marked as "diasporic".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-686
Number of pages28
JournalMultilingua-Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • bargaining
  • body idiom
  • categorization
  • diaspora
  • passing
  • transnational


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