[lg policy] call: Ethnicity, Language and Culture in a Post-Soviet City

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 12 16:47:12 UTC 2012

Ethnicity, Language and Culture in a Post-Soviet City

Date: 22-Aug-2012 - 24-Aug-2012
Location: Berlin, Germany
Contact Person: Anastassia Zabrodskaja
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site: http://www.sociolinguistics-symposium-2012.de/

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Call Deadline: 31-Jan-2012

Meeting Description:

The last decade has witnessed a rise in scholarly interest towards the
post-Soviet language situation. The agenda remains being dominated by
research in language policy and macro-sociolinguistics (Korth 2005,
Hogan-Brun et al. 2008) as well as overall descriptions of the status
change of Russian (Pavlenko 2008a, 2008b).

Under post-Soviet conditions one of the most topical sociolinguistic
dilemmas covers variety of issues related to changing language
hierarchies (Russian versus titular languages). Numerous
manifestations of this radical turn include top-down initiatives of
the so called nationalizing states (including the legislative
measures) as well as shift in individual linguistic behaviour and
cultural orientations (in the everyday life, in career building,
educational choices, marriage preferences, etc.). Big cities,
especially capital cities, provide a very good site for exploring
these changes, with their thick communicative environment; variety of
cultural products produced and consumed; rapidly changing public
spaces; visualization of 'national revival' measures embodied in
changes in toponymy, re-symbolization of city space, appearance of new
cultural markers, etc. In addition, population of many cities of the
New Independent States (NIS) has undergone serious ethno-cultural
transformation after the break-up of the USSR, starting with massive
outflow of the so called Russian-speakers (ethnic Russians and other
non-titular Russophones) during the 1990s, and ending with influx of
transnational and/or internal rural migrants during the current

Call for Papers:

The general aim of the session is to throw light on everyday
linguistic practices and identities' (re)negotiation of urban dwellers
contextualized within transformation of post-Soviet urban
socio-cultural and linguistic environment. As far as more concrete
objectives are concerned, we expect contributions which will take into
account striking heterogeneity of regions within post-Soviet space and
between the countries within these regions in what is related to de
facto and de jure status of the Russian language and popular
perceptions of challenges provoked by changes in sociolinguistic
situation. Thus, as minimum, two distinct regions might be defined;
these are the Baltic countries and those of Central Asia (the cases
polarity of which in regard to Russophones' position and Russian
language status is deeply rooted in the pattern of colonization of the
two regions). These territories within the post-Soviet space, in their
turn, provide a contrasting picture in comparison with Ukraine,
Byelorussia and Azerbaijan, also being the regions with a noticeable
presence of Russian-speakers.

Questions to be raised by the session participants may include, but
not are limited to, the following ones:

- Can mastering of Russian as a native language be taken as a synonym
of urban culture and a base for urban identity?
- Do parameters of cultural identity overlap or not with those of
ethnic self-identification?
- What urban ethno-cultural groups are most liable to this kind of
- How is identity negotiated in bilingual (multilingual) environments?
- To what extent do post-Soviet cities of the NIS, being multi-ethnic,
still retain practices of Russian or titular monolingualism?
- What ethno-cultural groups are most successful in
maintaining/enriching these practices?
- Can Russian linguistic and cultural space in post-Soviet cities be
taken as a 'Cheshire cat smile', functioning without Russians
themselves? What could be the factors contributing to
maintenance/erosion of this space?

The other themes of interest might include:

- Russian-based cultural urban spaces versus those dominated by
titular languages
- Monolingual versus multilingual public spaces (linguistic landscapes)
- Pragmatism versus cultural nostalgia as motors of titulars' interest
towards studying of the Russian language
- Last but not least, differences in attitudes towards above-mentioned
issues among Russian-speakers, members of titular groups and
non-Russian and non-titular minority groups

Abstracts have to be submitted via the conference website:



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