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Inaugural lecture Prof J.M. Fuller: "These are my People": Language and the Politics of Belonging

When:Tu 16-04-2019 16:00 - 17:00
Where:Aula Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Language is central to the politics of belonging in two major ways, which can be described in lay terms as ‘ways of talking’ and ‘talking about’. First, varieties of language (and variation within varieties) are often an index of identity categories; we categorize people in terms of how they speak.

At the same time, we also use language choices and linguistic features which ‘belong’ to the language of others, and in doing so may align ourselves or distance ourselves from them. Thus the linguistic phenomena of crossing and mocking are both inherently about belonging.

Second, discourses about belonging are an essential aspect of the reproduction of ideologies. How we talk about who belongs in a social group is not simply a reflection of societal norms but also serves to shape those norms.

These discourses are both influenced by and influence policy. Taking discourses of immigration, integration and national identity in Germany as an example, we see how the use of labels for social groups can reproduce essentialist categories, but also that these terms are challenged and competing discourses of inclusion emerge.

More information

  • Inaugural lecture: Ms Prof J.M. Fuller
  • Title: "These are my People": Language and the Politics of Belonging
  • Chair: Language & Society
  • Faculty: Arts
Janet Fuller
Janet Fuller
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