The representation of Saudi Arabia in two American newspapers:A corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis

Assulaimi, Khadija (2022) The representation of Saudi Arabia in two American newspapers:A corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. began in 1933, when "a friendship and trade agreement" was signed (Abukhalil, 2004, p. 181). However, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 affected the relationship between the two countries, since most of the attackers were of Saudi origin. Thus, Saudi Arabia received much attention from the media and was seen as being directly or indirectly behind what happened (Blanchard, 2015). Despite the considerable work on the construction of countries in the media, there is very little research on the linguistic or discursive representation of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this thesis aims to investigate the ways in which Saudi Arabia is represented in American newspapers. It presents a close analysis of news articles from four different time periods (1980-81, 1990-91, 2001-02, and 2010-11) to uncover potential changes in the construction of Saudi Arabia. The analysis also examines which discursive strategies and linguistic structures are instrumental in constructing the image of the country. The corpus comprises four sub-corpora of news articles about Saudi Arabia published in two American newspapers: the New York Times and the Washington Post, amounting to 4,541,582 words. To achieve its aim, the study draws on methodologies from Corpus Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis. A central theoretical notion in the corpus analysis of this study is keyword analysis, which presents an initial focus for the analysis. It also takes account of van Leeuwen's (1996) social actor model, Halliday’s (1985) transitivity and Wodak's (2001) referential and predicational strategies. Findings suggest that there is a significant shift in the representation of Saudi Arabia in the periods before and after the 9/11 attacks. Even though negativity occurred in some news themes in the first and second periods, the third and fourth periods have more negative representations, especially with the emergence of controversial topics related to religion, extremism, terrorism and human rights. The hegemonic discourse found in such topics constructs Saudi Arabia, a Muslim Middle Eastern country, in a negative way, especially in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. These representations emphasize a stereotypical image of Saudi Arabi as a threat to the world, presenting it as the original source and funder of extreme ideologies. News related to oil is prominent in each of the four periods, in which Saudi Arabia is predominantly represented in a reductionist manner as a rich country with the largest oil reserves in the world. By tracing diachronic change across four periods, this research also demonstrates how stereotypical negative representations of the kingdom, particularly the ones related to the topics of terrorism and extremism, are reproduced in news discourse.

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07 Sep 2022 10:45
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12 Sep 2023 00:53