Wild Publics: Language Under the Conditions of Late Modernity (Germany)

EventsWILD PUBLICS. Language under the conditions of late modernity – 16th Blankensee ColloquiumMarch 22-24, 2018, Freie Universität Berlin.

From 22nd to 24th of March 2018, we will organise a conference at FU
Berlin, Germany, discussing the construction of public space in relation
to language under the conditions of late modernity.

The conditions of public language in late modernity lead to changed and changing notions of public space: new spaces emerge; existing spaces become reconfigured and gain in complexity. Old divisions of private and public are shaken up, and existing forms of discursive authority and power relations are changed. We suggest that this can be observed in discourses and language uses as they manifest themselves in public space.

Continue reading “Wild Publics: Language Under the Conditions of Late Modernity (Germany)”

CFP Cultural Linguistics (Germany)

ConferencesCFP Cultural Linguistics: Current and Emerging Trends in Research on Language and Cultural Conceptualisations, July 23-26, 2018.  University of Koblenz-Landau, Landau, Germany. Deadline: 15 December 2017 (NOTE: extended deadline)

Cultural Linguistics: Current and Emerging Trends in Research on Language and Cultural Conceptualisations is a joint conference co-organised by the 38th International LAUD Symposium
and The Second Cultural Linguistics International Conference.

Cultural Linguistics is an emerging field of research with multidisciplinary origins that explores the relationship between language and cultural conceptualisations. Cultural Linguistics draws on and expands the theoretical and analytical advancements in several disciplines and sub-disciplines, such as cognitive psychology, Complexity Science, Distributed Cognition, and anthropology.

Applications of Cultural Linguistics have enabled fruitful investigations of the cultural grounding of language in several domains such as World Englishes, intercultural communication, Teaching of English as an International Language (TEIL), and political discourse analysis. Research carried out within these applied areas has shed significant light on the nature of the relationship between language and cultural conceptualisations.

The present conference has the aim to provide a forum for researchers engaging in Cultural Linguistics to present and discuss current studies on the link between linguistic patterns and underlying cultural conceptualisations, the role of cultural conceptualisations in language development and education, as well as interdisciplinary research in the field of critical discourse analysis. It also explicitly encourages a (critical) reflection of emerging trajectories of methodological innovation in more recent empirical research.

We invite submissions to our three parallel thematic sessions:
A) Cultural conceptualisation and the structure of language
B) Applied Cultural Linguistics
C) Cultural Linguistics, Ideologies and Critical Discourse Studies

Proposals are to be submitted via email no later than December 15, 2017 to: laud2018@uni-landau.de


CFP Linguistic Diversity & Asylum (Germany)


Linguistic diversity and asylum
October 26-27, 2017

Conference at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity, Göttingen, Germany

The exponential increase of refugees arriving in Europe
has added a new linguistic dimension to the social diversity
within European societies. The workshop engages with
how and where linguistic diversity is observable in the
asylum process and how institutions react in situations of
non-deniable and more and more complex linguistic diversity.

Summer School: Vocational Integration in Post-Migrant Society (Germany)

International Summer School: Vocational Integration in Post-Migrant Society
3-7 July 2017
Sponsor: TU-Dresden
Location: Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden (Germany)

As one of the largest common societal tasks in a country of immigrants, Germany qualifies the integration of people of any country of residence (ethnicity, age, gender etc.) in an inclusive, understanding society, especially the challenge to use and develop the potential of a diverse society. One focus of varying diversities within open society is the so-called post-migrant approach that focuses on the perspective of migration to and the resulting process of – social, and political transformations, conflicts, and identity constructions. The topic area of integration and labor in a post-migrational society is, in this context, of enormous importance, which essentially can improve in making societal participation possible here and considers the shortage of skilled workers and demographic advancement as well as the advancement of the job market. By extensively discussing relevant practices and concepts, the Summer School 2017 intensively situates itself within the theme of integration with a special focus on the (further) advancement of structures and processes of professional education and employment under the service of diversity.
Target Audience: Competition and Selection Process
The participant group from researchers will be composed in varied topic and background contexts who have been awarded for their excellent research activities (on the relevant qualification level) through innovative contributions to migration and integration research. Those interested are asked to describe their expertise in a clearly defined subject matter and their motivation for participation in the form of an application. A commission consisting of the applicants together with representatives of economics and sociology is then carried out for the selection of the candidates. 20 international researchers and 5 researchers of the TU Dresden will be selected.
The registration is open now until 31.03.2017.

World Conference on Pluricentric Languages (Germany)

5th World conference on pluricentric languages and their non-dominant varieties
Mainz, Germany
July 13-16th 2017

The conference is organised by the Working Group on non-dominant varieties of pluricentric languages (WGDV).

The general theme of the conference is “Models of pluricentricity: Nation, space and language“.

This time the conference will try to focus on the influence of geographic aspects on the modelling of dominant and non-dominant varieties to further advance the understanding of whether geographically contiguous varieties follow the same pathways in their affirmation as own varieties as do geographically separated ones (e.g. European and Brazilian Portuguese).

You find all necessary information on the website of the conference.
All scholars working in this field are invited to submit proposals for papers/workshops by 28 February 2017

U Tübingen PhD Position & Postdoc: Comparative Social Policy

The newly established Chair of Comparative and Applied Public Policy at the University of Tübingen invites applications for two positions:

1. PhD Position in the area of comparative social policy or social rights of EU migrant citizens. In addition to pursuing her PhD project, s/he will provide limited teaching and research assistance.

Essential requirements:
• Excellent undergraduate and graduate (master level) degree (preferably political science or social/public policy)
• Interest and knowledge in the politics of comparative social policy research or migration and welfare state research
• Excellent intercultural communication skills.Ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Excellent communication, presentation and writing skills in English and German are desirable.

2. PostDoc Position in the area of comparative social policy or social rights of EU migrant citizens. The PostDoc will contribute to the research within the research areas of the Chair of Comparative and Applied Public Policy. S/he will also be given the opportunity to develop and pursue her independent research and contribute to teaching.

Essential requirements:
• PhD in a social science discipline (preferably political science or social/public policy).
• Demonstrable interest and knowledge about migration and social rights.• Detailed knowledge of EU social policy, especially as it relates to EU migrant citizens.
• Experience of conducting qualitative research, including document analysis.
• Experience of managing research from the beginning stages through to publication.
• Excellent organisational and time management skills.
• Excellent computer and internet skills, including the use of online databases for literature searches: Endnote or other bibliographic software.
• Excellent intercultural communication skills.
• Proven ability to liaise with a range of different stakeholders.
• Ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
• Excellent communication, presentation and writing skills in English.

Deadline for applications is 15 March 2017.

Universität der Bundeswehr München job ad: Conflict Research (Germany)

Universität der Bundeswehr München Germany announces a position as a research assistant to the Professorship in Intercultural communication and Conflict Research. The position is announced as supporting teaching and research of the professorship as documented on the website of the professorship.

Applicants will be required to show a good command of German in speaking, reading and writing. However, non-native speakers are welcome.

For further details and for how to apply please refer to the full announcement.


Universität der Bundeswehr München

An der Professur für interkulturelle Kommunikation und Konfliktforschung an der Fakultät für Humanwissenschaften ist zum nächstmöglichen Zeitpunkt – vorerst befristet auf 2 Jahre – eine Stelle als

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin / Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
Entgeltgruppe E13 TVöD

zu besetzen. Die Stelle ist teilzeitfähig.

• Mitwirkung bei Forschungsvorhaben der Professur, insbesondere bei gegenwärtigen und daraus für die Zukunft zu entwickelnden Forschungsgegenständen im Sinne der auf der Homepage dokumentierten Arbeitsfelder (vgl. http://www.unibw.de/icc),
• Mitwirkung bei der Gestaltung und Durchführung der Lehre im B.A.-Studiengang Bildungswissenschaft und im M.A.-Studiengang Bildungswissenschaft, insbesondere interkulturelle, Medien- und Erwachsenenbildung,
• Mitwirkung bei der Betreuung von Seminar- und Abschlussarbeiten,
• Mitwirkung beim Erstellen von Publikationen
• Mitwirkung bei Verwaltungsaufgaben des Lehrgebietes.

Die Möglichkeit zur Promotion, bzw. bei Vorliegen einer einschlägigen und exzellenten Promotion zur Habilitation ist gegeben.

• Sehr guter Abschluss eines universitären Studienganges mit fachlicher Einschlägigkeit zu der Professur,
• Sehr gute Kenntnisse in dem interdisziplinär angelegten Forschungsfeld der interkulturellen Kommunikation,
• Sehr gute Englischkenntnisse und Interesse an Publikationen in englischer Sprache.

Die Universität der Bundeswehr München strebt eine Erhöhung des Frauenanteils an, Bewerbungen von Frauen werden ausdrücklich begrüßt. Personen mit Handicap werden bei gleicher Eignung besonders berücksichtigt.

Bei Fragen wenden Sie sich bitte an Prof. Dr. Dominic Busch.

Bewerbungen mit den üblichen Unterlagen (Lebenslauf, Zeugnisse, Bescheinigungen) richten Sie bitte bis 25. Mai 2016 im pdf-Format per E-Mail an Prof. Dr. Dominic Busch.

Refugees, Germany, Willkommenskultur and Intercultural Communication

Response to Dominic Busch’s guest post by Peter Praxmarer

Executive Director of EMICC (European Masters in Intercultural Communication)
Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) Lugano, Switzerland

Refugees, Germany, Willkommenskultur and Intercultural Communication

I find myself in almost full agreement with what Dominic Busch writes.

In particular, I find his reflections on language in what he calls “internal social discourse,” pertinent and well taken. Also, the fact that “the cultural argument” has been hijacked by the far right and the national populists, in our times, is not surprising. This would, by the way, merit a little more research: attention to the culture of others has more often than not been a child of animosity, enmity, hostility, rejection if not outright war, as the history of exclusion, but also of conquest, colonialism, imperialism, and domination in general, amply testifies. As we (should) know, the very idea of “intercultural communication” as a more or less independent field of study, research and practical application was born during WWII, as part of the “war effort” of the US (viz. Leeds-Hurwitz). From this, also, stems the particular and sometimes incongruent vocabulary of the field, which is utterly US-social-science-lingo dominated, with some inroads from languages which still claim their droit de cité in the global social science supermarket (or, more benignly stated, the Global Republic of Letters), e.g. French and German. The field of study called intercultural communication became less war-related only later (but not everywhere), when  nation- and culture-crossing processes and constellations other than war started to play a more important role in the modern world-system (to follow Immanuel Wallerstein’s still pertinent terminology, preferring it to the shallow term “globalization”) – but it has kept its very peculiar vocabulary, at least in the mainstream.

Aside from that, while reflecting upon the present discourse on refugees in Germany and the “cultural” problems of the more or less autochthon residents (the “Old Germans”, as Busch cites a fellow professor in his piece) with them, it is worthwhile also to reflect on the position of the very term Kultur in Germany. In Germany, and not only during Nazi times, there has long existed an attitude which was described as Am deutschen Wesen mag/soll die Welt genesen, meaning that German culture is the remedy for all other (cultural) ills, all over the world. The Allied Propaganda posters, both in WWI as in WWII, took up this cultural theme. Thus, e.g., US War Propaganda during WWI showed a Mad German Brute holding a club with written Kultur on it, or an US Sleeping Beauty by the name of Civilization, calling every man, woman and child to war  – these and similar illustrations were meant to convey that deutsche Kultur is not so peaceful as other civilizations. In historical perspective, one has to agree. Looking into what was done in the name of German Kultur and how Kultur was used during WWII and before, would just confirm the very xenophobic and worse essence of it, inhumanely and most horrendously. (Caveat: Allied war propaganda is not presented here as an authoritative source, but only to provide a stark illustration of the use of the cultural argument; and many other than German “cultures” and “civilizations” certainly also have their share in war, conquest and violence-in-the-name-of-culture, epitomized, e.g., by “The White Man’s Burden” or the “mission civilisatrice”.)

Therefore, and also in view of the fact that the populist right wing and nationalistic parties have been able to hijack the term “culture” for their purposes, it is so good to see how civil society in Germany has constructed a new culture which is not national or völkisch, nor aggressive or expansionist, but welcoming: Willkommenskultur. In addition, even the counterpart to civil society, the German state, not least through its Chancellor, is, to varying degrees and for various reasons, in favor of taking in refugees, as is, again for still other reasons and purposes, the economy and a great part of the media. A beautiful page in the otherwise not always so beautiful book of contemporary Europe. And also a great example of (co-)constructed (inter-)culture, as well as of the fact that  “culture” never stands alone and cannot be meaningfully explained without taking into account history, society, economy, the polity, as well as, in our day and age, the many influences and experiences of mediated virtual reality in all its forms.

Yet, I also want to mention a point of potential disagreement with what Busch writes, regarding the role of Intercultural Communication Studies and Research. It is certainly true that the term “culture” has been critically evaluated, and the field is rapidly moving away from an essentialist and relatively static position to a more constructivist interactional and dynamic view of culture, in very simple terms privileging “communication” and “inter” over “culture”. However, by and large the main concern of intercultural communication research has been predominantly either relatively elite or middle-class or strictly utilitarian, covering, e.g. management or other professional groups, hospitals, schools, the military, police, development cooperation, etc. Relatively rarely concerned with, e.g., social integration per se (if not in special trainings for social workers, etc.), or with social integration from below (viz. the reference to Conflict Discourse Ethnocentrism in Busch’s text). In other words, the field has been center- and middle-class- or elite-focused, and not periphery- and non-elite, and where non-elite, then mostly only in terms of social management of deviations from norms or dangers from (culturally defined) others. This has also impacted our methodology: we have not always tried to understand, but we have been “overstanding”, as Raimon Panikkar so masterly phrased it already a quarter of a century ago. This is exacerbated when interculturalists (have to) jump on data-driven “fast science” jets instead of cultivating philosophy-fertilized “slow science” gardens, since this leaves no time to reflect either on the cui bono question or on participative methods or more sophisticated research questions than the ones required and funded by the global social science marketplaces – and it most certainly does not give a voice to those directly researched upon and with. Also for these reasons (conceptual, exemplified by “culture”, as well as methodologically), I would argue, we have so little to say when it comes to refugee crises, or to horrorism/terrorism, or to many other social “problems”. One reason why “the cultural argument” has been so successfully hijacked by the right and the nationalists, could therefore probably be that the interculturalists have far too long worked – even if engaging in what Busch calls a “sophisticated” debate – with a de-historisized, de-socialized, de-materialized, de-economized, de-politicized and overly value-oriented and psychologized concept of culture (and communication, for that matter). In other words, if one wants to understand (parts of) social reality in terms of culture and communication (and “inter” dynamics and processes), one has to look at it as what Busch calls, following Michel Foucault a “Dispositiv” (“dispositif” or “apparatus” in Foucault’s terminology). Likewise, it is necessary to overcome the “Unbearable Lightness of Communication Research”, as The International Communication Gazette tellingly titles its forthcoming 2016 Special Issue.

This critical look at the field is of course not meant to belittle the many initiatives of academic interculturalists in Germany, of which “Helfern helfen” of the intercultural campus of the Interkultureller Hochschulverband is but one. Or the numerous other initiatives undertaken by people who have studied intercultural communication and want to put their knowledge to good use; not to forget all those who practice sustainable – and sustained — intercultural communication in their daily dealings with the Stranger, the Migrant, the Refugee, the Other. It is simply a call for more “social” intercultural communication studies – more social in more than one sense.

Some Observations on Internal Social Discourses on the Recent Increase of Refugee Immigration into Germany

Some Observations on Internal Social Discourses on the Recent Increase of Refugee Immigration into Germany

Guest post by Dominic Busch
Professor of Intercultural Communication and Conflict Research
Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany

[A couple of weeks ago, Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz asked me to write down some remarks on the current situation of Germany receiving a growing number of refugees. It is an honor for me to be allowed to say something on that topic. And at the same time – being a member of the society under discussion – the topic seemed to be so overly complex to me that I felt I was not able to write something off the cuff. After some consideration, I have tried my very best, and still, I fear that I might have forgotten or overseen one or another aspect.]

In international news coverage, Germany recently has been referred to as having been approached by an increasing number of refugees and immigrants from Africa, the near East as well as from South Eastern Europe (see either this excellent quantitative visualization, or this textual introduction with many links to the news).

Here, I would like to provide some remarks on this discourse as well as on how the discourse relates to ideas of intercultural dialogue. I cannot but write these remarks from a perspective that must be acknowledged as a highly personal one. Writing as a white German male professor at a university in Germany, and having been born in Germany, I am in a privileged position. I cannot contribute from the perspective of migrant experiences. I am part of that wealthy world where some (not too many) refugees have arrived, and civil society grows in strength and self-confidence by successfully accommodating them, donating, teaching refugee children German language in newly installed “welcoming classes”, etc. Critics of my contribution may well refer to the fact that I have not been personally involved in any challenging situations in the context of refugee movements.

Still, I would like to give it a try from the perspective of intercultural communication, my field of research. Even more, I would like to warmly invite readers of this contribution to add their perspectives and thoughts in this blog’s comment section below!

The Basic Assumptions of European Political Discourse on Refugees

Inside Germany, refugee immigration has been by far the predominant news topic for the last ten months. Migration had not been a topic of much consideration in the German national news discourse as it is now. Recent surveys have repeatedly confirmed that, even today, for a large part of the Germans the refugee phenomenon is an issue that they do not experience except via news media. Nevertheless, almost everybody seems to have an opinion on the topic. The arrival of refugees centrally can be dealt with as an issue of socially constructed news discourse. Keeping that constructionist aspect in mind may better help in understanding the central characteristics of the debate: it is primarily lead by attempts to finding a position and attitude for a whole society facing a situation some of the people feel as being insufficiently prepared for. In other words, German society is faced with a new situation and they cannot clearly see where it will lead.

The Construction of Unpreparedness

To start with, the primary reaction of the EU as well as many of its member states concerning the increasing immigration of refugees is that they were not prepared for this. Overall, political discourse builds upon the assumption that the increasing immigration is an event that could not have been foreseen. From this initial perspective, discourse draws the legitimation for needing to look for new solutions – and (in case of need) to break with former principles. So, for example, some EU member states have decided to act autonomously in terms of the refugee movement, although they had previously agreed upon following common decisions of the EU on these matters. Specifically, some of the EU member states have autonomously decided to close their borders to refugees, while others have decided to limit the number of refugees they are willing to accept.


In the case of Germany, one central ignition to the debate may be seen in Chancellor Merkel’s now famous statement “wir schaffen das” [we can do this]), first pronounced during a press conference on August 31, 2015 and encouraging society that they (and the state) have the means to welcome and accommodate the growing number of refugees. Furthermore, taking the perspective of international human rights, Merkel avowed that moral behavior will not allow for limiting numbers of refugees arriving as long as they are fleeing prosecution or other significant dangers. Stating that, Merkel took a position that is more open towards immigrants than the one taken by her own political party’s center-conservative attitude.

From that point onwards, simply put, it can be said that German society has been split into two groups – one group supporting Merkel’s openness across any political camps, and another group campaigning for an enforced stop of further immigration as well as for expelling those immigrants that already have entered the country. Beyond this overall dichotomy, the debate has some further nuances, all speaking either for one political camp or the other one. Generally this divide may accurately be described by distinguishing between the “old” Germans and the “new” Germans, terminology introduced earlier by Professor Naika Foroutan, who is based in Germany. Foroutan sees a large part of Germany’s population as representing the new Germans, and being open for aspects of globalization, migration and internationalization. Separate from them, however, Foroutan sees a part of the population that determines national identities on the basis of origin. Foroutan terms these the old Germans.

Over the past one or two years, discourse on refugees into Germany has grown into political upheaval. Newly founded political parties have entered several regional parliaments after a strong gain of votes during recent elections within some of Germany’s regions – propagating right-wing totalitarian and anti-Muslim attitudes.

The Inescapability of Being Part of Conflict Discourse

So these are the basic facts. The question now: what does this have to do with intercultural dialogue? First of all: A look at contemporary German discourse strongly teaches that there are no “facts”. The stronger and the more pervasive a political debate and conflict grows, the more it becomes evident that (as authors like Holliday and Dervin have stated for the field of intercultural communication, recently) any statement on the topic is automatically political. Even although academic research, above all, claims to analyze social phenomena from a distance that allows far-sighted reflection and multiple perspectives, any academic statement turns out to support either one or the other opinion. This is the case for writing, but even more, it is an issue for social discourse, which no longer accepts any neutral position but immediately categorizes any statement into one of the political camps. To date, researchers have not been pulled into escalated conflict. But since some extreme right-wing groups claim that the German national press media frequently lie, media discourse takes up a clear position within the debate. For the time being, most of the national media voices are pro refugees – to some degree perhaps just to counter the extreme right’s accusations. Remembering Spivak’s famous phrase, it regrettably goes without saying that here again, refugees – despite standing at the center of the debate – have no voice at all.

In sum, although I have long been convinced of constructionist and critical discourse analytic approaches to social communication anyway, the situation in German discourse just described makes it clear in a very painful way that once you are in a conflict situation, you will be constrained by your position as a party to that conflict, and you will not be able to pull yourself out of that situation by your own bootstraps. Even if you want to, society will not let you. Thus, from a discourse perspective, German society has maneuvered into an intractable internal conflict more quickly than might have been expected.

Conflict Discourse Ethnocentrism

Another aspect that comes to mind from the perspective of intercultural research is the observation that the debate on refugees is, to a breathtaking degree, ethnocentric. German news discourse and social discourse construct the phenomenon of increased refugee immigration into Germany as a singular and particular case that cannot be compared to any similar cases, whether in the past or in any other country in the present. From this perspective, the vast field of existing international research on migration is not considered relevant. Even more, the debate largely ignores the fact that international migration, and flight-based migration in particular, have been a worldwide phenomenon for centuries, and that, in fact, they are seen as a central characteristic of contemporary processes of globalization. Instead, a discourse of self-victimization of citizens of Northern Europe is being promoted. This ethnocentric perspective hinders political and social discourse from considering the phenomenon of increased immigration from a distance and in a wider context. Instead of well-considered orientations, society constrains itself to the search for ad hoc solutions. Even more, a general feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair on the issue of immigration pushes social discourse into a situation of feeling under pressure. This pressure results in a situation of perceived conflict where participants narrow their perspectives rather than widening them to find creative solutions. Social discourse gradually adopts a tone of conflict discourse. As a consequence, even those political camps that actually endorse the reception of refugees tend to construct the increased immigration as a problem, a threat, and even a crisis. The notion of a refugee crisis today is commonly mentioned in German national news media, although even this notion has to be understood to be a construction – with many potential alternatives. Again and again, some authors thus warn that the language and rhetoric of contemporary discourse on immigrants is taking a more and more dehumanizing style – at the expense of the refugees.

Strategic Culturalization vs. Anti-Culturalism and Culture as a Taboo

Although research on intercultural communication and on intercultural dialogue has developed a vast range of highly sophisticated and differentiating notions of culture, these notions have not played any considerable role in contemporary social discourse. Instead, supporters of right-wing parties opposing the reception of refugees strategically have made use of rather crude and essentialist notions of culture. Until this happened, scholars might have believed that their research had overcome such outdated concepts. Instead, assumed cultural differences between refugees and Germans are being used to foment fear of future social and/or cultural conflict inside the country. Cultural particularities are made responsible for a putatively higher crime rate and even terrorism. In other words, talking about culture in the debate on refugees has so thoroughly been monopolized by extreme right-wing voices that the rest of the political camps see only one chance to oppose them: Instead of arguing for more differentiating (e.g. interactionist or constructionist) concepts of culture, residing political parties as well as news media act as if their only option is to completely ignore and deny the existence of culture as a phenomenon. For supporters of non-right-wing political camps, talking about culture has become taboo. Speaking the language of intercultural research, an anti-culturalism here (again) turns out to be the only morally acceptable attitude. To some degree, intercultural research is significantly threatened by this taboo. Social and political discourse here passes up the chance of gaining insights into how cultural identities are co-constructed in both face-to-face and media interaction, and how their construction can be activated in cooperative as well as in discriminating ways. In short, a careful look at the role of culture and its force as a discursive construction might help in finding ways to transcend the conflict discourse, yet these ways seem to be blocked by that very discourse at the moment.

Insights into the genuinely constructionist nature of social and political discourse may turn out to be the only chance for evading and escaping the conflict circle that has been described here. Even though this line of argument may perhaps give the impression of being abstract, and even complex, interculturalists, opinion makers, and the news media should be highly encouraged to contribute to establishing this perspective.

NOTE: See the response prompted by this post, by Peter Praxmarer.

CFP Translanguaging and Repertoires across Signed and Spoken Languages (Germany)

“Translanguaging and repertoires across signed and spoken languages: Insights from linguistic ethnographies in (super)diverse contexts”
20-21 June 2016
Göttingen (Germany)
Deadline for abstracts: 31 December 2015

Admission is free but registration is necessary

Confirmed presentations:
Alastair Pennycook, University of Technology Sydney
Adrian Blackledge, University of Birmingham
Angela Creese, University of Birmingham
Ulrike Zeshan, University of Central Lancashire
Annelies Kusters, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religious Diversity
Massimiliano Spotti, Tilburg University
Ruth Swanwick, University of Leeds

The aim of this symposium is to foreground contributions based on linguistic ethnographies which were undertaken in educational settings and public/private/parochial settings in which people engage in the practice of translanguaging. With translanguaging we mean the linguistic practices in which people with diverse and multilingual backgrounds engage in order to make themselves understood by others. When doing so, they do not make use of separated languages but use elements/lexicon/grammar of (what might be regarded as) two or more different languages, hence the term ‘translanguaging’. In the process of translanguaging, people typically make use of a variety of channels or modalities: they may speak, point, gesture, sign, write, in a variety of combinations – ie multimodality.

When translanguaging, people draw upon linguistic repertoires, a term which denotes that people learn and use to speak, sign, write, read (parts of) different languages throughout their lives. Linguistic repertoires are typically multimodal, for example gestures are inherent part of spoken language production and mouthings are inherent part of many signed languages. In addition to biographic linguistic repertoires, there are spatial repertoires, linked to specific locations such as markets and repertoires linked with a certain culture and/or religion. Importantly, translanguaging not only draws on but also transforms repertoire.

Current works into spoken languages translanguaging include Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge’s ongoing AHRC project “Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities” (2014-2018). Alastair Pennycook is (with Emi Otsuji) the author of the recently published book “Metrolingualism: Language in the City”, which sheds light on the ordinariness of linguistic diversity as people go about their daily lives in the city and make use of diverse linguistic resources. Massimiliano Spotti’s research focuses on asylum seeking 2.0 where identity negotiation in spoken interaction is supplemented with online evidence that corroborates the discourse of suspicion used as standard by the authorities.

Current works into multilingualism/translanguaging in relation to signed languages and/or gesture include Ulrike Zeshan’s ongoing ERC (2011-2016) project “Multilingual Behaviours in Sign Language Users, focusing on “cross-signing”, “sign-speaking”, and “sign-switching”, breaking new ground with respect to a field of research that can be called “Sign Multilingualism Studies”. Ruth Swanwick’s British Academy project is titled “Deafness and bimodal bilingualism: A plurilingual language framework for education”. Annelies Kusters focuses on gestural interactions and multimodality between fluent deaf signers and hearing non-signers in customer interactions and public transport in Mumbai.

We invite/include contributions that are based on the study of translanguaging in practice: how do people make use of different languages and different modalities (signed/gestured, spoken, written) when drawing on different repertoires in order to make themselves understood? The fact that contributions about the full spectrum of human language use (including signed/gestured/spoken/written) are invited, exploring a common theme, is innovative because the study of signed and spoken languages sociolinguistics have developed rather separately from each other. The focus on language use in practice (in which gesture is an inherent element of spoken languages production and mouthed/spoken/written/fingerspelled language is used by people who use signed languages) will be instrumental in bridging these separate strands, which is a much needed development in order to understand human language production in general. The study of gesture has brought signed and spoken language researchers of theoretical linguistics together, but a parallel bridge has not yet been built in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology. Thus the symposium and the special issue will be cutting edge and highly competitive, as they extend concepts of translanguaging because of the unique ways in which signed and spoken languages are be used together. In short, the goal of the symposium is to create new knowledge, dialogue or transactions between studies of sign and spoken language diversity and plurality.

The languages of presentation will be International Sign and English, and English-IS interpretation will be organized.