WP307 Decolonising language in the city: Multilingual repertoires, institutional practice and civic engagement in a UK urban setting
In this paper I examine how multilingual spaces emerge within institutions across a number of sectors in the city. Drawing on their repertoires of linguistic resources actors (institutional agents and clients) assume agency to change practice and forge ideological justifications for new practice routines. Repertoires of linguistic resources comprise not just linguistic forms but also experiences and encounters in the multilingual city and the ability to find creative solutions drawing on multimodal resources. The ideological stances that accompany practice and reflection on multilingual spaces represent notions of pluralism and transnational identities. They embrace symbols of belonging to a variety of places and practice communities. In this way the city as an organic network of de-centralised institutions accommodates practices and ideologies that differ from the prevailing one-language nation-state position. It develops its own city language narrative. That narrative is supported and in part shaped by a university-based research project – Multilingual Manchester – which introduced a new epistemology into the study of urban multilingualism, many of its elements echoing the decoloniality agenda. There is, however, a risk that the activist agenda might become unsustainable as the neoliberal corporate university environment adopts ‘diversity’ as a commodity and defaults to a stance that is shaped by colonial legacies.