WP179 Language, power, ethics and superdiversity



In an era characterised by increasingly dynamic population mobility, traditional presuppositions about the substance of individual and group identities, and about the social and political semiotics that shape them, seem inadequate. In superdiverse societies, the question of language poses a particularly difficult challenge, owing both to its identitarian and communicative dimensions. These new realities raise new questions, empirical and normative alike: in such circumstances, what constitutes a linguistic identity? How do linguistic identity and political agency interplay? Are all linguistic identities necessarily political, and, if so, are they of equal value? What forms of linguistic prioritisation, e.g. in civic life, education and the job market, may be considered legitimate? Are national governments justifiable in intervening in the linguistic repertoires, practices and identities of citizens and non-citizens? Are some notions of linguistic integration and citizenship more compatible with democratic principles than others? Could these notions be grounded in sufficiently common social and political semiotics? And what role is there for the state in a rapidly globalising world? These and similar questions unavoidably require principled interdisciplinary collaboration between linguists, philosophers, political scientists and public policy researchers.
The ideas in this programmatic paper will be discussed at a colloquium of the same title, to be held at King?s College London on 13 May 2016. For more information, contact yael.peled@mcgill.ca or www.kcl.ac.uk/ldc