Multimodal representations and meaning-making in homepages of diasporic websites

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In the context of contemporary social changes of the global and networked society, new media
technologies have brought about a reorientation of communication possibilities for representation and meaning. As contemporary communication has become increasingly multimodal (Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2001), and as technology gets acknowledged as what people make of it in a cultural context (Pauwels, 2005), websites are becoming potential sites for digital representations and cultural expressions. These new forms of electronic mediation have become particularly evident in various diasporic community websites in Southeast Asia more recently. The current paper forms part of a larger study that investigates digital forms of community representations and meaningmaking in South Asian diasporic websites in the Southeast Asian region. The paper focusses on the homepages of two representative lifestyle portals of the Indian diaspora in Hong Kong and Singapore.
To study the diasporic communities’ situated choices and configuration of semiotic resources in their websites, the paper deploys the multimodal social semiotic analysis framework (Kress, 2009) to analyse multimodal aspects of the homepages by addressing the following questions: i) What are the different modes and semiotic resources used as representations in the homepages of diasporic websites of Indians in Hong Kong and Singapore? ii) What inter-semiotic relationships are configured in the digital medium across various modes in these homepages? iii) What kinds of discourses of representation and cultures are articulated through the organization of content on the homepages of the websites of the Indian diaspora? Findings affirm the growing importance of the multiplicity of modes for representation and communication along with the significance of the sign-makers’ agency
in the configuration and shaping of meaning in online spaces. The findings also indicate how these diasporic websites seek to undo the stereotypical and naturalized discourse of communities (Mitra, 2001) through the multimodal expressions and heterogeneous discourses of their identities and cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2016
EventThe 26th European Systemic Functional Linguistics Conference (ESFLC): Functional Linguistic and Social Semiotic Approaches to the Media - University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
Duration: 13 Jul 201615 Jul 2016


ConferenceThe 26th European Systemic Functional Linguistics Conference (ESFLC)
Abbreviated titleESFLC 2016
Internet address


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