call for papers

luisa martin rojo luisa.rojo at
Wed Dec 7 15:49:40 UTC 2011

Dear all,
the second call for papers for the Sociolinguistics Symposium in Berlin in
August 2012 has now been announced. Full details are on the conference
website: .
 A large number of thematic sessions have been selected by the
organisers,including the thematic session I organise,  devoted to “Taking
over the squares: the role of linguistic practices in contesting public
spaces” (Session ID: 131) at the 19th Sociolinguistics
Symposium<>in Berlin in
August 2012.
Let me know if you would like to contribute to the following:


The first sparks started to fly in Arab countries, where thousands of
people took to the streets, squares and other public spaces making use of
multilingual banners and signs to challenge government economic policies,
and demand higher citizen participation in political life. This was soon
followed in Iceland, and soon after in Spain. In spite of the differences
in terms of the contexts, demands and motivations, these grassroots
movements are characterised by diversity in terms of class and gender. They
are primarily being led and constituted by people, who in different ways
suffer the consequences of basic service cuts, and/or reject the economic
system behind the current financial crisis, and behind their political

The conviction that only global actions can confront global problems
explains the strong international focus of these movements, and the
attempts to spread the flame of protest throughout the
Other principles which define these movements are leaderless and horizontal
forms of organisation; open assemblies as the main forums whereby consensus
is reached on actions to be taken, and the movements’ demands; the central
role of online social networks and of public spaces as places of
intervention, communication and reunion. It is precisely within the context
of all these new political practices that new linguistic practices may
emerge. The focus of this panel is to assess the innovative nature of these

Specifically, their labels and slogans (*Dégagez*, *Indignados*, *From
Tahrir to Sol*) and the languages used by the demonstrators circulate
through the Internet and the media, and pass from one country to another,
thus interconnecting movements. These struggles share a global outlook, and
make a particular use of multilingualism to address both global and local
interlocutors, to create chains of interconnected discourse in order to
join forces and build up new communities. Thus, the first aim of this panel
will be to analyse the forms taken by this mobilisation of resources from
different languages.

Besides this pervasive multilingualism, other transformations in the modes
of production and circulation of discourses can be attested. In fact, the
introduction of new political practices seems to require correlative
discursive changes. In particular, the principles of horizontality and
collective intelligence result in collectively produced discourses,
deliberately anonymous, which challenge traditional authorship patterns.
Other political practices also seem to have an impact in the production and
circulation of discourses. In particular, it would be worth analysing the
impact of the use of several online tools, and of the constantly monitoring
of how the movements are portrayed in the media. Thus, the second aim of
this panel will be to analyse the potential transformation of discursive
practices in connection with some ideological features of these movements.

Finally, this panel will also analyse the implications and contradictions,
which could emerge, or the tensions and inconsistences derived from the
articulation between the local and the global. Some of the questions to be
addressed will be:

   1. Are there any new linguistic practices at play in this context? And
   if so, is this novelty rooted in the particular features and objectives of
   these new social struggles?
   2. What are the new modes and sites of production and circulation of
   these discourses?
   3. How is multilingualism enacted in the context of social struggle? Is
   it a merely rhetorical phenomenon or is it an effective means to articulate
   global and local dimensions, and in that case, what could be the impact of
   these multilingual practices on previous local forms of multilingualism?
   4. Can the commodification of multilingualism be at play here?

*How to contribute*
So far, I have received potential contributions analysing data from Madrid,
Athens, Cairo, Tunisia,  Tel Aviv, and also some comparative analysis of
the languages and discourses used by the movements in Europe and EEUU. If
you would be interested in contributing to this panel, too, please contact
me at luisa.rojo at before you submit your abstract directly on the
Sociolinguistics Symposium website:

   - All submissions have to be made through the Sociolinguistics
   Symposium’s online submission tool
   - Your abstracts should not exceed the length of 500 words (incl.
   - Each abstract will be reviewed anonymously by at least two peers.
   - Each paper will be given a time slot of 20 minutes for the
   presentation plus 5 minutes for discussion.
   - Each participant may have at most two contributions at the conference,
   one as author and one as co-author.

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Luisa Martin Rojo
Depto. de Lingüística General, Lenguas Modernas, Lógica y Filosofía de
la Ciencia, Teoría de la Literatura y Literatura Comparada
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Ciudad Universitaria de Cantoblanco
28049 Madrid
tel. +34 91 497 66 94
fax.: +34 91 497 44
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