Gabriella Modan

Core Faculty


I am interested in how people talk and write about city spaces. My research examines how people use language to create identities for the cities and neighborhoods where they live, and for themselves as legitimate urbanites, and the implications this has for the creation, maintenance or destruction of cities as places of democratic interaction. I've been particularly interested in the role that such language plays in processes of gentrification and multi-ethic community formation, primarily in Washington, DC, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. These days I'm also working on narrative orientation and language and medical encounters.

Selected Publications

  • Turf Wars: Discourse, Diversity, and the Politics of Place. Malden: Blackwell, 2007.
  • "Writing the Relationship: Ethnographer-Informant Interactions in the New Media Era." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 26.1 (2016): 98-107.
  • "Commodified Language in Chinatown: A Contextualized Approach to Linguistic Landscape." Journal of Sociolinguistics 13.3 (2009): 332-362.
  • "Mango Fufu Kimchi Yucca: The Depoliticization of ‘Diversity’ in US Urban Discourse." City and Society 20.2 (2008):188-221.
  • "Engaging Death: Constructed Dialogue and Hypothetical Narratives in Advance Care Planning." Communication and Medicine 11.12 (2015):153-165.
Areas of Expertise
  • Discourse analysis
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Ethnography
  • Oral narrative
  • Urban studies
  • Ph.D., Georgetown University

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