WP92 Challenges for Linguistic Human Rights: ?Designer immigrant? students in Singapore



Following an increase in awareness of how language is crucial to issues of social (in)equity, Linguistic Human Rights has developed as a prominent response to the threat of linguistic discrimination and marginalisation of peoples who speak and use a different language. This paper, however, challenges the normative principle behind LHR, by suggesting that processes of globalisation and transmigration pose difficult questions for LHR?s assumptions regarding language and linguistic practices. I propose a theorisation of the ?designer immigrant? student with a focus on their peripatetic nature which is currently an under-researched aspect of migrant identity. Five of these individuals who had moved from China to study in Singapore are investigated through a questionnaire. Qualitative analysis of this data is bolstered by some ethnographic insight from my experience as a secondary school teacher in Singapore. In uncovering the attitudes and opinions toward the learning and use of English, as well as the aspirations of these five ?designer immigrant? students, it will be argued that LHR?s precepts regarding language and identity are too essentialist, and hence incompatible with the sociolinguistic practices of such individuals who translocate indefinitely over scales of time and space. In order to avoid misrepresentation, any politics of empowerment via language and identity must avoid top-down imposition, and instead be constructed from the bottom up.