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Hakuna Matata: Das T-Shirt als Linguistic Landscape auf Sansibar

Researcher: Cassandra Gerber
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Anne Storch

The motto T-shirt with its stereotypical motifs – a list of words in Swahili, which pretend to denote typical things of a country, an orientalist female figure, African variations of common pop-cultural images – can be a globally produced souvenir or a t-shirt which is sold on online platforms as well as on the streets of shopping promenades. The T-shirt is an emblematic piece of clothing, which expresses a certain attitude towards life or even a sense of belonging, of being in a place. As my research object, it will be embedded as a material object in the context of diverse, online, and offline semiotic landscapes.

With my project, I want to contribute to research on language or signs within places of consumerism in the form of the multimodal and mobile T-shirt. Also, I want to theorize and reflect on semiotic landscapes as a research field. Online and offline spaces will be considered in my ethnographic fieldwork: Places like Stone Town, Nungwi, or Paje in Zanzibar as well as online shops like spreadshirt.de. The data I collect shall give an overview of the landscapes a piece of clothing can create, contribute to and perform in. The T-shirt and its environment, its creation, and distribution will be captured as diversely as possible through photographic, video, and audio material.