Towards heuristic guidelines for transdisciplinary discourse studies: the case of racist and anti-racist discourse


Jan Zienkowski


Jan Zienkowski

Project duration

2018 – onwards


Discourse, discourse analysis, articulation, discourse theory, subjectivity, power, heuristics, methodology, critique, racism, anti-racism


Articulatory Discourse Analysis is a heuristic for identifying large-scale interpretive patterns in the discursive practices that shape the way human beings relate to themselves, to each other and to the contexts that shape their lives and allow them to make sense of their world. The goal of this project is to develop a heuristic for analyzing large-scale patterns structuring political debates and subjectivities. The project therefore aims to formulate theoretical and methodological principles and procedures for analyzing multimodal data-sets in discourse analysis. Discourse is thereby conceptualized as a multi-dimensional process of (re-) articulation whereby the meanings of words, signs, images, identiteis, narratives, practices and institutions get temporarily fixed into open and changeable structures through performative acts of communication performed with varying degrees of reflexive awareness. The basic unit of analysis proposed here is an articulation, understood as a performative linkage of semiotic elements. The approach proposed here relies on a combination of insights developed in poststructuralist discoures theory and more pragmatically oriented approaches to discourse that allow reserachers to examine the way social actors articulate themselves with varying degrees of critical awareness (with)in large-scale social and political logics, structures and constellations. As such, this project should be understood as a contribution to the transdisciplinary field of discourse studies.

Scientific publications

Zienkowski, Jan. Asserting racism’s relativity: a Flemish nationalist rearticulation of the problematic of racism. In: Journal of Multicultural Discourses, Vol. 12, no.2, p. 149-165. is external)

Zienkowski, Jan. Challenging nationalist definitions of racism: critical discursive interventions in the Flemish debates on racism’s relativity. In: Zeitschrift fuer Diskursforschung, Vol. 2018, no.1, p. 51-72.

Conference papers

Zienkowski, Jan. Making Racism Visible: claiming a space for the articulation of racist experience(s) in Flanders. 2nd International Conference on Sociolinguistics (Eötvös Loránd University Budapest, du 06/09/2018 au 08/09/2018). is external)

Zienkowski, Jan. Critique as a performative practice of (re-)articulation: on the need to elaborate on the pragmatic dimension of discourse in Essex style discourse theory. DiscourseNet 20: Fuzzy boundaries in discourse (Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, Budapest, Hungary, du 17/05/2018 au 19/05/2018). is external)

Zienkowski, Jan. Articulation as a guiding principle for analysing the interpretive functions of discourse: a heuristic for investigating the metapolitics of anti-labor union discourse. DiscourseNet Congress #2: interdisciplinary discourse studies: theory and practice (University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, du 13/09/2018 au 17/09/2018).

Other outputs (including societal valorisation)

Zienkowski, Jan. Applying the concept of discourse as articulatory practice: a heuristic for studying discourse and subjectivity at multiple levels of abstraction. Lunch meeting organized by Engage and CASPER (Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles, 26/11/2019).

Zienkowski, Jan. Le racisme : un concept relatif? Analyse critique du débat autour des conceptions alternatives du racisme au sein de la N-VA. Engage website, 13/08/2018.