POLYVOCALITY IN GRAFFITI: A SEMIOTIC STUDY OF THE ZALLAQ RUINS
Abstract - Graffiti from the ancient times to the presenthave served as cultural textsthat can be critically read to draw insights into the individual(s) or social group(s) that produced these. Although largely relegated to the margins of academic discourse in the mid-20th century, they have become increasingly legitimate subjects of study by researchersnot onlyfor their artistic qualities but also for their activist content.This paper takes a semiotic reading of the graffiti in Bahrain’s “Zallaq Ruins” byclassifying the textual and imagistic expressions and interpreting these against the backdrop of a polyvocalic, multi-layered urban society. The authors’ reading of these signs proposes that this artistic site showcases the cultural complexity of a Khaliji culture – one marked by the fusionand contestation of personal and communal concerns,as well as values and worldviews.It attempts to show that seemingly mundane and individualistic can present a level of signification that is at once intellectually complex and socially relevant.
Keywords - Bahrain, Graffiti, Semiotics, Cultural Studies, Polyvocality