Language Realms and Desires: Biographies, Multilinguality and Power in Society

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30-19:20
RC38 Biography and Society (host committee)

Language: English

Due to global migration and its regulation through policies in societies, questions of language empowerment and language legitimacy have become increasingly important. While more and more people are socialized as multilingual speakers, nation states and especially their educational systems remain mostly monolingually organized. Therefore multiple processes of exclusion as well as of attempts at integration and belonging result from speaking languages “of others” and “of one’s own”.

Literary writers have found ways to describe what it means for them to write in another language, making it their own. This can occur under conditions of exile (Vladimir Nabokov, Eva Hoffman) or in the course of purposeful migration (Jhumpa Lahiri, Tomer Gardi, Yiyun Li). The new language certainly presents challenges and restrictions but also a realm of transformation and creativity.

By conceptualizing language as a social practice, we would like to explore situations and interactions of biographical relevance. The focus could be on questions such as: In which ways does multilinguality or learning to speak the new language as a migrant present speakers with processes of exclusion? Does the new language possibly also represent what speakers desire, or who they desire to become? How do speakers reflect “their own” and “others’” languages biographically? How can we reconstruct the power relations they experienced in their language biographies?

Session Organizers:
Lena INOWLOCKI, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Germany and Anna SCHNITZER, University of Zürich, Switzerland
Lena INOWLOCKI, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Germany and Anna SCHNITZER, University of Zürich, Switzerland
Oral Presentations
“Speaking like a Native”? Biographical Perspective on Language Performance of Migrant Students between Othering, Mimicry and Desire for Passing
Minna-Kristiina RUOKONEN-ENGLER, Institute for Social Research at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Language Learning As a Social Encounter with the “Other” – a Comparison between Families of Cameroonian Origin in France and Germany
Edmond EKOLLO, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany; Janina GLAESER, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany; Abdoulaye NGOM, University of Strasbourg, France; Elise PAPE, University of Strasbourg, France
Access of Immigrant Roma Families to Strasbourg’s Integration Policies, in Paticular French-Language-Teaching Policy. an Example of Biographical Policy Evaluation.
Catherine DELCROIX, University of Strasbourg, France; Dieudonne KOBANDA, University of Strasbourg, research center Dynamiques Europeennes, France
Distributed Papers