Multimodal Texts as Mediated Actions: Voice, Synchronization and Layered Simultaneity in Images of Disability: Najma Al Zidjaly
In this chapter, I draw on the notions of voice, synchronization and layered simultaneity to explore, from the perspective of multimodality and mediated discourse analysis, how visual texts can unintentionally harm social causes. Building on Blommaert’s (2005) conviction that synchronization and layered simultaneity in discourse can be key to uncovering hidden discourses, voices and agendas-and drawing upon the conceptualization of images as mediated actions with consequences rather than as simple means of representation or expression (Al Zidjaly, 2005, 2007, forthcoming)—I examine critically a representative number of visual covers, advertisements and featured articles taken from 10 magazines published by the Association for People with Disabilities in Oman over the course of 15 years. The analysis demonstrates a shift in the representation of disability in Oman from a social cause to a charitable one; this shift is congruent with a more widespread change in various disability nongovernment organizations in Oman, which have moved from promoting social action (i.e., being rights-based foundations) to providing mainly material aid (i.e., being charity-based foundations). The dangerous ramifi cations of such a shift are highlighted.