Orienting to Arab Orientalisms: Language, Race, and Humor in a <i>YouTube</i> Video

Elaine Chun and Keith Walters

in Digital Discourse

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199795437
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919321 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Orienting to Arab Orientalisms: Language, Race, and Humor in a YouTube Video

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This chapter examines acts of stance by comedian Wonho Chung and his YouTube audience as they negotiate ideologies of language, race, and nation in the Arab world. Specifically, it focuses on how Chung, an Arab-English bilingual of East Asian descent, humorously invokes stereotypes of an Oriental, and how his audience, largely Arab-identifying YouTube users residing in over fifty countries, position themselves in relation to these stereotypes. The chapter notes the potential for Chung to critique Orientalism through his humor and for YouTube spaces to encourage linguistically and geographically diverse individuals to collaboratively take positive stances toward Arabic and Arab culture. Yet it also identifies ways in which Chung's comedic performance and his audience's responses ultimately reinscribed essentialist notions of Arabness and racist ideologies of Orientalism.

Keywords: Arabic; authentication; humor; ideology; orientalism; parody; racism; stance; stylization; Youtube

Chapter.  7736 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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