The widespread movement of people and their linguistic repertoires has contributed to growing pressure on the model of the nation-state and related notions of linguistically and culturally homogeneous societies. Supposed homogeneity of communities is contingent on the notion of the border as a device of containment. However, in light of increased population movement, recent multidisciplinary approaches seek to capture the complex qualities of the border as both a locus of mobility (a line to be crossed – a bridge) and a site of enclosure (an untraversable barrier – a wall). So what are borders, how are they constructed and how do they impact our lived experience? Additionally, how can sociolinguistic and cognate research enhance our understanding of the interface between language and borders?
In this context, it has become increasingly urgent to reconsider how ‘migration’ is theoretically conceptualized, especially because ‘migration’ itself has become a salient object of contemporary discourse. This objectification and frequent vilification of migration potentially casts a shadow on the complex and diverse forms of (im)mobility that social actors experience, be it in relation to their own (im)mobility or that of others. Discussion of the roles of borders, mobility and migration in sociolinguistic research encourages us to reflect on the broader concept of space, and on its role in the formation and perpetuation of language ideologies. At this conference, we aim to address a number of questions, including:
– What constitutes a border for sociolinguistic researchers? What linguistic practices do borderlanders engage in?
– As sociolinguists, what can we learn from multidisciplinary approaches to border studies? What insights can be drawn from advances in geography, sociology, history, anthropology, politics and cultural studies?
– How do different sociolinguistic methodological frameworks (qualitative, quantitative, mixed) address borderland scenarios.
Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Brigitta Busch (University of Vienna), Carmen Llamas (University of York), Clare Mar-Molinero (University of Southampton).
This conference invites contributions from researchers in a range of disciplinary backgrounds, whose work focuses on the role of language in relation to borders, mobility, migration, and/or space. The conference has been generously supported by the British Academy’s ’Tackling the UK’s International Challenges’ initiative, as part of an ongoing project by Dr James Hawkey (Bristol) and Dr Kristine Horner (Sheffield).