WP317 Linguistic Citizenship

Christopher Stroud


This paper explores the notion of Linguistic Citizenship, a term coined by Chris Stroud at the turn of the millennium in Southern Africa to draw attention to ‘grassroots’ engagements with language (specifically multilingualism) as a dynamic of transformation. Linguistic Citizenship is an attempt to work through a blueprint of language for navigating living the complexities of a diverse and difficult world in conviviality (and convivial contest) with different Others. It is a disruptive engagement with the ‘coloniality of language’ involving the expansion and retooling of available linguistic resources. This paper presents three vignettes that reflect three themes that have emerged as significant in the work on Linguistic Citizenship under the rubrics of ‘love’, ‘hope’ and ‘care’: (a) rethinking the dynamic role of language/multilingualism in the reconstruction of postcolonial citizenships; (b) exploring the strategic uses of acts of Linguistic Citizenship in the revitalisation and maintenance of languages; and (c) building empowering contexts for education. The paper concludes with a brief scoping of what Linguistic Citizenship could mean for how we think about multilingualism in our contemporary world.