William Cotter

About William Cotter

I am a doctoral candidate in the joint PhD program in Anthropology & Linguistics. Prior to joining the Department of Linguistics and School of Anthropology, I completed a Master’s of Arts in Sociolinguistics of the Arab World at the University of Essex. My Master’s research examined Arabic dialect contact in the Gaza Strip between indigenous Gaza Palestinians and Palestinian refugees originally from the city of Jaffa. More recently, in the summer of 2015 I conducted a three month pilot fieldwork project examining dialect contact in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Jordan.

My primary body of research draws on tools from both variationist sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology to examine the intersections of language, violence, belonging, and citizenship in the Middle East. To date this work has taken two different, but connected paths. One strand has focused on language change within varieties of Palestinian Arabic, situating change within the broader context of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the social, cultural, and political history of the Palestinian community. The second strand has explored how state apparatuses utilize language, specifically Arabic, in conflict areas. Within this body of work I am interested in how state militaries deploy Arabic in leaflets, phone calls, and SMS message as one of component of the broader project of conducting military conflict. Beyond the role that these forms of language play within military contexts, on a broader level I ask what role the use of Arabic plays in creating social and political imaginaries of the state and reinforcing 'democratic' discourses within the context of war.
In my dissertation research I focus on the use of verbal art, particularly oral poetic forms, and other performantive genres among communities of Palestinian refugees in the Jordanian capital of Amman. My goal in this project is to foreground the ways in which these performative genres create, reinforce, and shape discourses of citizenship, memory, and belonging within the Palesitnian community. 

Outside of academic pursuits, I'm an avid cyclist, coffee snob, and dog dad. 

Peer-Reviewed Publications: 

  • Cotter, William M. (submitted). "The voice of this coffee": Moral economies and enduring inequality in the world of specialty coffee. Food, Culture & Society.
  • Hall-Lew, Lauren, Mirjam Eiswirth, Mary-Caitlyn Valentinsson, and William M. Cotter. (to appear). Country Vowels and Town Vowels in Northern Arizona, in Valerie Fridland, Tyler Kendall, Betsy Evans and Alicia Wassink (eds.) Speech in the Western States, Volume 2: Inland West, Chapter 7, pp. forthcoming. Publication of the American Dialect Society. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Cotter, William M. 2017. Not-so-strange bedfellows: Language documentation and sociolinguistics in Gaza. Canadian Journal of Linguistics.
  • Cotter, William M. 2017. Gaza at the margins? Legibility and indeterminacy in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 27(1): 54-70. 
  • Horesh, Uri and Cotter, William M. 2016. Current research on linguistic variation in the Arabic speaking world. Language and Linguistics Compass 10(8): 370-381.
  • Cotter, William M. 2016. (q) as a sociolinguistic variable in the Arabic of Gaza City, in Haddad, Youssef and Eric Potsdam (eds.). Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics XXVIII: Papers from the Annual Symposium on Arabic Linguistics, Gainesville, Florida, 2014. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 229-246. 
  • Cotter, William M. 2016. One piece of the puzzle: notes on the historic interdental fricatives /θ/, /ð/, and  /ðʕ/ in the Arabic dialect of Gaza City, Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 16: 149-162.
  • Cotter, William M. and Horesh, Uri. 2015. Social integration and dialect divergence in coastal Palestine, Journal of Sociolinguistics, 19(4): 460-483.

Book Chapters & Encyclopedia Entries: 

  • Cotter, William M. (in prep). Dialect Contact and Phonological Change, in Lucas, Chris and Stefano Manfredi (eds). Arabic and contact-induced change: A handbook. Berlin: Language Science Press.
  • Cotter, William M. and de Jong, Rudolf. (to appear). Lexical and Regional Variation, in Al-Wer, Enam and Uri Horesh (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Sociolinguistics. London: Routledge.
  • Haeri, Niloofar and Cotter, William M. (to appear). Form and Ideology Revisited, in Al-Wer, Enam and Uri Horesh (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Sociolinguistics. London: Routledge.
  • Horesh, Uri. and Cotter, William M. 2015. Sociolinguistics of Palestinian Arabic, in Edzard, Lutz and Rudolf de Jong (eds.) Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Lingusitics Online. Leiden: BRILL.

Editor-Reviewed Articles & Proceedings Papers:

  • Cotter, William M. (under review). Burying Tariq Aziz. Arizona Anthropologist
  • Cotter, William M. (to appear). Spring in Gaza. Anthropology & Humanism.
  • Cotter, William M. 2016. A sociophonetic account of morphophonemic variation. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics 26: 060001.
  • Cotter, William M. 2016. On depression, anxiety, and looking for the silver lining in short-term fieldwork. Arizona Anthropologist 26: 23-35. 

Book Reviews:

  • Cotter, William M. (in prep). Thank You for Dying for Our Country: Commemorative Texts and Performance in Jerusalem by Chaim Noy. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.
  • Cotter, William M. 2016. Review of Language and Identity in Modern Egypt, Al-’Arabiyya 49: 163-166.
  • Cotter, William M. 2016. Review of Making Waves: The story of variationist sociolinguistics by Sali Tagliamonte. LinguistList.
  • Cotter, William M. 2015a. Review of Language, Migration, and Identity: Neighborhood talk in Indonesia by Zane Goebel. LinguistList.

Public Scholarship & Engagement: 

  • Cotter, William M. 2017. Do Military Leaflets Save Lives or Just Instill Fear? SAPIENS Magazine.
  • Cotter, William M. and Valentinsson, Mary-Caitlyn. 2016. A seat at the bar: Issues of race and class in the world of specialty coffee, Article for Anthropologies as part of Anthrodendum (formerly Savage Minds)
  • Cotter, William M. 2016. Political conflict as a catalyst for language change: The case of Palestinian Arabic, Babel - The Language Magazine 14: 38-44.
  • Cotter, William M. 2014.Navigating the Ph.D. Application Season, GradHacker - Inside Higher Education.

Courses Taught

As Instructor of Record:

Summer 2017: Anth 150B1 - Many Ways of Being Human (Online)

Summer 2017: Ling 322 - The Structure and Meaning of Words (Online)

S' 17: Anth 383 - Varieties of English 

Summer' 16: Anth 150B1 - Many Ways of Being Human

F '15: Ling 320 - Language and Social Issues (w/ Mary-Caitlyn Valentinsson)



S' 16 / F '17: Anth 150B1 - Many Ways of Being Human

F' 14 / S '15 / F '16: Anth 150A1 - Race, Ethnicity, and the American Dream

F' 15: Anth 303 - Gender and Language


Research Interests

Variationist sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, sociophonetics, Arabic dialects, specialty coffee, Palestinian Arabic, the Gaza Strip, structural violence, citizenship

William Cotter's picture


2017 - M.A. in Linguistics, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ
2013 - M.A. in Sociolinguistics of the Arab World, University of Essex, Colchester UK
2012 - B.I.S in Middle Eastern Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta GA