GESF Multilingualism Seminar Series 2015

The impact of globalisation on the European and UK linguistic and cultural landscapes has provided rich points for researchers critically exploring issues of migration, language and identity. The three presentations in this series present current critical research that opens up our understanding of the ways in which we communicate, the ways in which ‘language’ is ideologically driven and commodified, as well as new ways of exploring the methodological shifts in multilingual research.

Chair: Dr Frances Giampapa, University of Bristol.

Venue: Graduate School of Education, Helen Wodehouse Building, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol BS8 1JA.

If you’re not a member of the Centre but would like to attend the seminars, please contact:

PDF version of the programme is available here 

Seminar 1: Wednesday 18th November 15:00-16:30, Room 3.13


Professor Adrian Blackledge & Professor Angela Creese

Mosaic Centre for Research on Multilingualism, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. 

The UK is in the midst of an era of demographic shift, driven by globalisation and changing patterns of migration. Many UK cities are now characterised by ‘superdiversity’, in which not only ‘ethnicity’, but other variables (e.g. legal status, immigration history, educational background, socio-economic status) influence the composition and trajectories of urban centres. Our research investigates how people communicate in these changing conditions.

We investigate the ‘spatial repertoires’ (Pennycook and Otsuji, 2015) of the Birmingham Bull Ring Indoor Market and the Library of Birmingham (LOB), and describe the discourses particular to these environments. Taking as our main focus a butcher’s stall in the Birmingham markets run by a husband and wife team from Fujian and Malaysia respectively, and a public experience assistance in the LOB with origins in Hong Kong, we consider how interaction occurs within ‘contact zones’ (Pratt 1991), or ‘translation zones’ (Apter 2006). Our interest is in the everyday communicative practices of contemporary life in two of the city’s best-known meeting places. We investigate how social relationships are kept in good repair (Goffman, 1981) as market traders and their customers, and library staff and visitors negotiate, mime, point, tease, compliment, joke, laugh, haggle, inform, misunderstand, complain, argue, and so on. The market and the library are spaces characterized by communal relations where social contact becomes habitual and frequent. In our analysis of such contact we generate theory out of signs in use and action in superdiverse urban environments.

Seminar 2: Wednesday 25th November 13:00-14:30, Room 4.02


Dr. Ana María Relaño Pastor

Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Department of Modern Philology (English Studies), Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM), Spain.

This presentation discusses the narratives of bilingualism shared by members of a school community in La Mancha, whose prestige has been disputed, transformed and eventually socially accepted as competitively eligible in the global market for over a decade. The proliferation of Spanish/English bilingual programs in the region of Castilla-La Mancha is now a well-established phenomenon contemplated in the ‘Plan Integral de Plurilingüismo’ (Integral Plurilingualism Plan), amended and approved in the region in January 2014. The school under study has pioneered its current bilingual program through the MEC/British Bilingual Projects agreement signed in 1996 and fully implemented in 2000. For over a decade, the narratives about the bilingual character of this school have transformed the school community from a ‘piojos (lice) school’ to a ‘pijos (posh) one’. In this presentation I will discuss narrative data from the ongoing linguistic ethnography conducted at this public school, which will be analyzed following the multidimensional approach of narrative analysis proposed by Ochs and Capps (2001) combined with the latest research on narrative as social practice (De Fina, 2008; De Fina and Georgakopoulou, 2008a, 2008b, 2012) with a focus on the moral positioning-s and stancetaking resources that emerge in these narratives.

Seminar 3: Monday 30th November 16:00-17:30, Room 1.21


Dr. Jane Andrews

Associate Professor (Education), Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries & Education, University of the West of England, United Kingdom.

This presentation will focus on emerging issues on the role of languages in an ongoing AHRC large grant project. The project Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State, led by Professor Alison Phipps at Glasgow University (2014-17) focuses on uses of language at sites of pain and pressure, which are often border sites, whether physical or metaphorical. The project uses multiple methods across disciplines and five case study sites. A key unifying feature of the project is the use of arts-based methods from the outset to achieve goals such as communicating about project issues to audiences, researchers communicating with each other about their understandings of emerging issues, researchers engaging with research participants and researchers disseminating ideas to stakeholders. The case study sites and areas of focus for the studies are mental health provision in Uganda, language learning for newly arrived young people in Glasgow, language teaching and learning in Gaza, anthropological studies of migration and asylum procedures in Bulgaria and Romania, legal approaches to asylum cases in Glasgow and the Netherlands and critical multilingualism conceptualisations of border states with a focus on Arizona, USA.