Conference: Migration and Literacy in Multilingual Societies

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Sep 25 16:11:40 UTC 2008

Migration and Literacy in Multilingual Societies

Seminar Organizer: Michael G Boyden, University College Ghent, Reine
Meylaerts, U of Leuven

Many states around the world demand that prospective immigrants learn
the official language of the host culture. Such decrees are normally
perceived by aspiring citizens as legitimate measures to maximize
communication between themselves and the state. However, in
multilingual states with massive immigration or with territorial
linguistic minorities in the process of asserting themselves in
relation to the dominant language group, these types of official
language requirements are often decried as forms of linguistic
apartheid. Is it only in powerful states with a strong monolingual
language policy that the instrumental benefits involved in learning
the state language (access to housing, jobs, education) should
coincide with other, culturally specific benefits that language
learning may bring (access to state institutions and dominant literary
traditions)? Our seminar examines the connections between literacy,
migration and linguistic minorities in relation to so-called dominant
literatures and cultures. How can we explain that, as a defense
against exploitation by dominant groups, linguistic minorities tend to
enforce legislation and promote cultural practices that may be
perceived to be "unjust" by prospective immigrants who want to gain
access to hegemonic society? How do minority language cultural
practices (fail to) contribute to legal enforcement? How is this
trade-off reflected in immigrant or minority writings
(heterolingualism, code switching)? How do different forms of literacy
circulating within multilingual societies serve to distinguish "good"
from "bad," or "old" from "new" citizens? How, finally, does all of
this affect translation practices?

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list