WP190 Limits to translanguaging: Insights from a conflict-affected context

Charalambous, Charalambous & Zembylas


This paper looks at how histories of conflict and ideologies of language as a bounded entity mapped onto a homogeneous nation impact on translanguaging practices in a superdiverse classroom in conflict-affected Cyprus. Drawing on ethnographic data from a highly diverse primary school in the Greek-Cypriot conflict-affected context, this study examines how nationalist understandings of language and belonging affect the ways in which a group of Turkish-speaking students of Pontian and Turkish-Bulgarian backgrounds relate to their Turkish-speakerness in classroom interaction. The findings show that, despite the polylingual and hybrid realities of this particular school, in formal educational practices Turkish-speaking students kept a low profile as to their Turkish-speakerness. Even when the teacher encouraged translanguaging practices and a public display of students’ competence in the Turkish language, this was met with inarticulateness and emotional troubles, fuelled by a fear of associating ‘speaking Turkish’ with ‘being Turkish’. In discussing these findings, the paper points to the impact of different overlapping histories of ethno-nationalist conflict that associate Turkishness with the ‘enemy group’ and the ways in which these histories socialize children within essentialist assumptions about language and national belonging.