Going South and zooming into what also matters in language, gender and sexuality


  • Ana Cristina Ostermann Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos)




social interaction, language, gender, and sexuality, gynaecological consultations, presupposition, heteronormativity


This essay contributes to the ‘Thirty-year retrospective on language, gender and sexuality research’ on the theme of ‘Place’ by joining other colleagues under two threads: ‘going South’ and ‘going micro’. Under ‘going South’, I speak from my trajectory and place as a Brazilian scholar to highlight the geopolitical importance of the International Gender and Language Association (IGALA) and the journal Gender and Language, not just for the intellectual and scientific development of studies on language, gender and sexuality but also for research produced in nonhegemonic centres. In defending that we ‘go micro’ – i.e. that we zoom in our methodological lenses to social interactions in everyday life – I argue for the relevance of interactional studies to the investigation of language, gender and sexuality in action. I illustrate how microanalytical methodological lenses have guided my research, some of the findings they have helped me disclose and some of the applications they have helped me foster.

Author Biography

Ana Cristina Ostermann, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos)

Ana Cristina Ostermann is a Professor of Applied Linguistics at Unisinos and Research Fellow for Conselho Nacional para Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Brazil. She was the first President of the International Gender and Language Association (IGALA) from the Global South (2010–2012). Her research focuses on social interaction in everyday life and institutional contexts – in particular, in hospitals, police stations, helplines and feminist intervention centres, most often from a conversation analytic perspective. Among her publications are the recent articles ‘Women’s (limited) agency over their sexual bodies: Contesting contraceptive recommendations in Brazil’ (Social Science & Medicine, 2021) and ‘“No mam. You are heterosexual.” Whose language? Whose sexuality?’ (Journal of Sociolinguistics, 2017).


Blommaert, Jan (2005) Discourse: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511610295

Cashman, Holly and Raymond, Chase (2014) Making gender relevant in Spanish-language sports broadcast discourse. Gender and Language 8(3): 311–340. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.v8i3.311 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.v8i3.311

Comaroff, Jean and Comaroff, John (2012a) Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving toward Africa. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00664677.2012.694169

Comaroff, Jean and Comaroff, John (2012b) Theory from the South: a rejoinder. Fieldsights. Retrieved from https://culanth.org/fieldsights/theory-from-the-south-a-rejoinder

Goodwin, Marjorie (2021) A call for ethnographic investigation of justice and care in language and gender research. Gender and Language 15(2): 249–261. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20314 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20314

Hall, Kira, Borba, Rodrigo and Hiramoto, Mie (2021a) Thirty-year retrospective on language, gender and sexuality research. Gender and Language 15(1): 89. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.19524 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.19524

Hall, Kira, Borba, Rodrigo and Hiramoto, Mie (2021b) Language and gender. In James Stanlaw (ed) The International Encyclopedia of Linguistic Anthropology 1–22. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118786093.iela0143 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118786093.iela0143

Heritage, John (2010) Questioning in Medicine. In Alice Freed and Susan Ehrlich (eds) Why Do You Ask? The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse 42–68. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kitzinger, Celia (2005) Heteronormativity in action: reproducing normative heterosexuality in after-hours calls to the doctor. Social Problems 52(4): 477–498. https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.2005.52.4.477 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.2005.52.4.477

Mehan, Hugh (1991) The school’s work of sorting students. In Deirdre Boden and Don H. Zimmerman (eds) Talk and Social Structure: Studies in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis 71–90. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Ochs, Elinor and Kremer-Sadlik, Tamar (2021) Talk labour and doing ‘being neoliberal mother’. Gender and Language 15(2): 262–276. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20315 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20315

Ostermann, Ana Cristina (2003a) Communities of practice at work: gender, facework, and the power of habitus at an all-female police station and a feminist crisis intervention center in Brazil. Discourse & Society 14(4): 473–505. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926503014004004 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926503014004004

Ostermann, Ana Cristina (2003b) Localizing power and solidarity: pronoun alternation at an all-female police station and a feminist crisis intervention center in Brazil. Language in Society 32(3): 351–381. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404503323036 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404503323036

Ostermann, Ana Cristina (2017) ‘No mam. You are heterosexual’: whose language? whose sexuality? Journal of Sociolinguistics 21(3): 348–370. https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12240 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12240

Ostermann, Ana Cristina (2021) Women’s (limited) agency over their sexual bodies: contesting contraceptive recommendations in Brazil. Social Science & Medicine 290. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114276 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114276

Ostermann, Ana Cristina and Garcez, Pedro (2021) Conversation Analysis in Brazil and talk-in-interaction in Portuguese. Calidoscópio 19(2): 143–151. https://doi.org/10.4013/cld.2021.192.00 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4013/cld.2021.192.00

Ostermann, Ana Cristina and Harjunpää, Katariina (2021) OKAY in health helpline calls in Brazil: managing alignment and progressivity. In Emma Betz, Arnulf Deppermann, Lorenza Mondada and Marja-Leena Sorjonen (eds) OKAY across Languages: Toward a Comparative Approach to Its Use in Talk-in-interaction 269–299. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/slsi.34.09ost DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/slsi.34.09ost

Ostermann, Ana Cristina and Jaeger, Aline (2012) Gênero e identidade no consultório ginecológico: pressupostos identitários jamais questionados [Gender and identity in the gynaecological clinic: the never-questioned identity presuppositions]. In Ana Cristina Ostermann and Stela Meneghel (eds) Humanização. Gênero. Poder: contribuições dos estudos de fala-em-interação para a atenção à saúde 119–132. Rio de Janeiro: Fiocruz.

Ostermann, Ana Cristina and Keller-Cohen, Deborah (1998) ‘Good girls go to Heaven; bad girls...’ learn to be good: quizzes in American and Brazilian teenage girls’ magazines. Discourse & Society 9(4): 531–558. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926598009004006 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926598009004006

Ostermann, Ana Cristina and Kitzinger, Celia (2012) Análise da Conversa Feminista e Análise da Conversa Aplicada. Calidoscópio 10(2), 239–244. Retrieved from http://revistas.unisinos.br/index.php/calidoscopio/article/view/cld.2012.102.10 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4013/cld.2012.102.10

Raymond, Chase (2019) Category accounts: identity and normativity in sequences of action. Language in Society 48(4): 585–606. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404519000368 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404519000368

Shrikant, Natasha and Marshall, Dana (2019) ‘I went to debutante school’: using Southern femininity as a resource to negotiate authority in a Texan workplace interaction. Gender and Language 13(3): 396–417. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.36393 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.36393

Stokoe, Elizabeth (2012) ‘You know how men are’: description, categorization and common knowledge in the anatomy of a categorical practice. Gender and Language 6(1): 233–255. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.v6i1.233 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.v6i1.233

Tennent, Emma, and Weatherall, Ann (2021) Feminist conversation analysis: examining violence against women. In Jo Angouri and Judith Baxter (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Language, Gender, and Sexuality 258–271. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315514857-21

Singh, Jaspal Naveel (2021) Language, gender and sexuality in 2020: forward Global South. Gender and Language 15(2): 207–230. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20311 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20311

Wilson, Thomas P. (1986) Talk and institutional context. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, New York.



How to Cite

Ostermann, A. C. (2021). Going South and zooming into what also matters in language, gender and sexuality. Gender and Language, 15(4), 611–624. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.21528



Theme Series

Most read articles by the same author(s)