With few exceptions conversational studies have mostly focused on interactions between doctors and native patients. This paper addresses the construction of nonnative identity in interactions between a gynecologist and immigrant patients in a public hospital in Italy. Particularly, the paper addresses the question whether the specific structure of the medical interaction involving a non-native patient makes not only institutional identities (patient/doctor) but also language and cultural identities relevant for the members. Data include a corpus of 12 audio-recorded interactions between a gynecologist and a patient, each 6 of them involving, respectively, a native and a non-native patient. Analyses show that pragmatic, linguistic choices index the identity of the patient as an interactant "of a special kind", by making relevant certain aspects related to her ethnic identity.
Keywords: Social construction of identity, membership categorization device, Conversation Analysis, gynecologist-patient interaction, conversational asymmetry, formulations