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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Communication

Year Degree Awarded

2015

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Donal Carbaugh

Second Advisor

Benjamin Bailey

Third Advisor

Emily West

Fourth Advisor

Denise Ives

Subject Categories

International and Intercultural Communication

Abstract

The following dissertation raises these questions: how do people talk about their communication, and what role does this play as constructing a widely used cultural resource? The specific data concerns oplakvane, referring both to a key cultural term and a range of communication practices in Bulgaria. This term, and these practices are explored through the theoretical and methodological frame of cultural communication (Philipsen, 1981-87), ethnography of communication (Hymes, 1962), and cultural discourse analysis (Carbaugh, 1992, 2007a, 2010). The analyses demonstrate how oplakvane, which can loosely be translated as “complaining” and “mourning”, functions as a deeply shared cultural resource for communication (Carbaugh, 1989a) and as a system of deeply rooted communication practices. These practices often occur in a cyclical form, in a ritualized manner (Philipsen, 1987), which, when enacted, pays homage in re-constructing a sacred object, a particular Bulgarian identity. Through and within oplakvane practices, a specific cultural “reality” connected to the larger narrative of the Bulgarian “situation” is reconstituted, with radiants of meaning being activated for identity, elaborated through its deep sense of dwelling, related emotions, and habits of routine action. The findings, therefore, offer an understanding of oplakvane as a Bulgarian way in which communication constitutes culture, and works as a discursive resource for the management and recreation of the Bulgarian cultural landscape. Discussion of the findings demonstrates how the study enriches the ethnography of communication field substantively, theoretically, and methodologically.

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