Biography

Language really does matter. It is not simply a symbolic representation of the material; it is material. It is also bodily. When we speak, it is sound waves that beat against our eardrums; when we write, it is ink that is scratched, struck or pressed onto paper. Language also has material consequence. It is with strings of words, bundles of texts, that we name and distinguish people so as to order and regulate them. We deploy our words and texts also to punish people, to harm them, to exterminate them, even. ("Speaking of Difference", 2010, p. 349)


I am Professor of Language and Communication in the Department of English at the University of Bern.

Before moving to Switzerland, I was Full Professor at the University of Washington in the USA, having spent three years in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (Bothell campus) and eight years in the Department of Communication (Seattle campus). I still hold an affiliate status as Full Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. During my time at the University of Washington, I also held adjunct appointments in both Linguistics and Anthropology. Prior to working in the USA, I had been a lecturer for three years in the Centre for Language & Communication Research at Cardiff University, Wales.

My background is originally in social and applied psychology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa (1985-1990) and I was previously a registered psychologist with the British Psychological Society. I have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Marketing, an Honours degree in Clinical Psychology and a Masters degree in Educational Psychology. I also have a background in the theatre, having trained for two years as an actor at The Poor School in London (1990-1992) and having qualified as a teacher of Speech & Drama through Trinity College London (Licentiate diploma, 1985-1989). After several years of travelling and working at various jobs in London (including a stint at the British Council), I returned to academia, completing another masters degree - in Communication Studies at Sheffield Hallam University in England (1995-1996) - followed by my doctorate in Language and Communication at Cardiff University, Wales (1997-2001).