The Construction of the Linguistic Other – Constructing the Other By Classifying Language(s)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Susanne BECKER, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
In my presentation, I will discuss empirical findings from my Ph.D. project, which deals with the links between language(s) and social inequalities. One major factor in the production of social inequalities is the process of classifying and othering along the line of language(s). I am therefore not only interested in language as a medium of othering but also in how the category language is important as a category of classification. My empirical findings show different processes of othering along the line of language(s). Firstly, there is a construction of the internal other, which is present on a territory that is constructed as “ours”. Here European immigration and integration politics as well as European language testing regimes functioning as restriction for immigration and naturalization are a major factor within these processes. Here there are links made between the categories of nation, ethnicity and language.

On the other hand there is a construction of the external other, which is discursively located somewhere else. Here categories like an Indian or an African language play a major role within these constructions of the other. In addition, discourses about colonial languages are part of these othering-processes. I will discuss this construction of the linguistic other on the basis of my empirical data which was conducted in a ethnographic research in two wards in the City of Munich, Germany. Theoretically my argument is informed by the concept of (neo-)linguicism, which is understood as a form of linguist racism and argues that language(s) become an import factor in othering-processes to legitimizing exclusion and discrimination.