Paola Giorgis teaches English Language, Literature and Visual Arts in Italian high schools and holds a PhD in Anthropology of Education and Intercultural Education. She is co-founder and member of wom.an.ed – women’s studies in anthropology and education.
Her main interest interest regards a critical and intercultural approach to Foreign Language Education, that is, how Foreign Language Education can be used to develop an awareness of different languages, representations and cultural conceptualizations able to favor intercultural communication. All through her teaching years, she has observed many episodes which confirm the capability of (foreign) language(s) to foreground many aspects connected both to personal and collective identities, dynamics and representations, displaying how learning and using a non-mother tongue can question, challenge and problematize meanings, assumptions and representations taken-for-granted, thus remoduling the perception and the representation of the self and others. Therefore, she believes that Foreign Language Education should undergo further several radical shifts, definitively abandoning an essentialist view of the target language/culture to foster a more nuanced, and critical, view of the relation between language and culture.
In her PhD research, sshe investigated cross-linguistic interactions among adolescents in multicultural and plurilinguistic contexts from the perspective of Linguistic Anthropology, Intercultural Education, and Critical Linguistics and Pedagogies. Her findings show that cross-linguistic interactions reshape personal and collective identities, constantly moving and recombining the (narrated) borders of language, identity and ethnicity: bottom-up language practices can facilitate intercultural encounters and create spaces in-between for trans-cultural affiliations, and are also able to reveal aspects linked to language creativity and to the personal agency of speakers as social agents.
She also focuses on the issue of power connected to languages, and on how Critical Pedagogies can address them, examining in particular the challenges and the opportunities advanced by the English language(s). At the intersection of global phenomena and local appropriations, of norms and variations, of homogenization and subversion, English has triggered fierce debates on the linguistic, sociocultural, political, ideological and pedagogical implications of its widespread, but also on the potentially creative and critical appropriations from below that it can elicit. She assumes that, precisely for its multifaceted quality and the controversies it arises, English language(s) can represent the ideal site to observe how individual and collective representations of culture and identity move through language affiliations and appropriations. She is also interested in what could be called ‘Applied Literary Criticism in L2’, as she examines the experience of the literary text in L2, and in particular of Poetry in L2, as an open space for a renewed imagination able to disclose one’s emotions and empathize with others’, in a way less conditioned by memories and (self-appointed or given) roles connected to one’s linguacultural background.
She is affiliated with ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe), lend (lingua e nuova didattica – Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching) and IAIE (International Association for Intercultural Education); she is a referee for Confluenze, an online journal on the Human Sciences, and a referee and book reviewer for Intercultural Education, a journal published by Routledge, Taylor & Francis.
She has published the monograph Diversi da sé, simili agli altri. L2, letteratura e immaginazione come pratiche di pedagogia interculturale (Different from One’s Self, Similar to Others. L2, Literature & Imagination as Practices of Intercultural Education), Roma: CISU (2013), as well as chapters in collective volumes, articles in international journals, and participated at several international conferences.
Paola Giorgis may be contacted via email.