Languaging in Times of Change

Following the success of the first Translation and Translanguaging (TLANG) conference in March 2018 we are delighted to invite proposals for a two-day international conference on 26 and 27 September 2019, to be held at University of Stirling, UK. The conference fee is £150 (£100 students).

The theme of the international cross-disciplinary conference is ‘Languaging in times of change’.

‘Languaging’ refers to all types and modes of discourse and communication. The conference creates a space for discussions across disciplinary boundaries, as scholars come together to share research on communicative practices and ideologies in contexts of work, education, family, the arts, migration, leisure, politics, the digital world, and beyond. We particularly welcome proposals for presentations from scholars whose research area is not solely or principally in linguistics. We also encourage presentations which report innovative research methodologies.

Proposals are invited for individual papers, colloquia, posters, and roundtable discussions. Proposals are also welcomed for performance-based presentations. The deadline for proposal submission is midnight on April 1st, 2019.  Decisions on successful applications will be announced 1st May.  Details of registration and the link to abstract submission can be found at here

This conference builds on the AHRC-funded project Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities (TLANG)

Individual papers and colloquia will be situated broadly within one of the following themes:


This theme views translanguaging as an embodied, creative way of being, acting, and languaging in the world, and as an ideological orientation to difference in times of change. Papers will examine translanguaging practices in which the diverse histories, biographies, and resources of social actors come into contact.

Advocacy and Activism

This theme explores languaging in contexts of advocacy and activism. Papers will refer to research which investigates languaging as advocacy and activism in a wide range of contexts, and research which examines advocacy and activism for linguistic human rights, language maintenance, and language revitalisation.


Presentations in the ‘Superdiversity’ theme will consider languaging in relation to changing social and cultural worlds. Across subject disciplines, papers will report research which examines the complexity of societal diversity and population change, and will propose implications for policy, practice, planning, and pedagogy.


In this theme presentations will consider the complexities of identity practices in changing social environments, and in relation to specific timespace conditions. The theme will examine how changes in timespace arrangements effect shifts in roles, discourses, and modes of interaction, and how everyday identity work points to recognisable societal structures.

Digital Worlds

The ‘Digital Worlds’ theme invites contributions which examine languaging in online, social media, and other digital spaces. Presentations will consider how digital practices are fundamental to meaning-making across modes and modalities, to the way people construct and represent themselves, and to communality and belonging.


This theme considers the notion of ‘voice’ in all its forms. Papers will engage with questions of power and inequality, voicing and voicelessness, the right to speak and the right to be heard. Presentations view voice as indexical of social order, and examine the interface at which voice shapes, and is shaped by, social worlds.


This theme will discuss practices, politics, and ideologies of literacy and literacies. Presentations will report research in the areas of decolonising literacies, transliteracies, vernacular literacies, multiliteracies, and academic literacies, and will engage with literacy education and regimes of power.


Anna De Fina, Georgetown University

Migration, mobile commons and new spaces of reciprocity

Mainstream and widespread media discourses about migrants in Europe are not only overwhelmingly negative, but also dominated by unidirectional metaphors of flow in which migrants are seen as either having to be excluded from society or  as needing to be integrated into it. Such conceptualizations ignore a very basic fact: mobile individual and members of local communities cross each other’s paths’, construct multiple networks of connections based not merely on work relationships but also on reciprocal relations of affection and friendships and on the sharing of knowledge and information. Sociologists Papadoupoulos and Tsianos (2013) have proposed the interesting construct of “mobile commons” to characterize the forms of knowledge and communication, the virtual and concrete spaces  of sharing and sociability and the “infrastructure of connectivity” (p. 191) that migrants set up when they are on the road and when they arrive somewhere. In my view it is however, important to recognize that mobile commons often include local networks and individuals, not only migrants. These networks generate new communicative spaces and practices, often characterized by translanguaging and by the creation of new chronotopic identities and understandings of social reality.

In this talk I explore one such space generated through the online communications of a superdiverse group conformed by migrant youth of different origins and their Italian friends. I analyze their  linguistic and communicative routines and chronotopic constructions in order to illustrate how cultural and linguistic differences are navigated and how relationships and new identities are consolidated. My talk is based on ethnographic work carried out for the last two years with students and teachers at the School of Italian for Foreigners managed by the University of Palermo, a center that focuses on both teaching and social inclusion for migrants.

Papadopoulos, D. & Tsianos, V.  (2013). After citizenship: autonomy of migration, organisational ontology and mobile commons, Citizenship Studies, 17:2, 178-196,  DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2013.78073

Anne Donovan, Scottish Writer

Finding Voices: A Writer’s Perspective

Writing is a mysterious process. Voice is the way in which I access the inner lives of characters, find a sense of place and attempt to bring words to life. Finding the voice of a character is, for me, crucial to the process of writing.

Unlike writing for stage, radio or film, voices in fiction are generally not spoken by an actor, but heard in silence, inside our own minds. Writing a character’s voice involves being inside the character, attempting to find a way of using the words on the page to signify what the character might never even voice out loud. Since most of my characters are Scottish, that voice will often be Scots.

I will focus on three particular areas of writing in Scots: Glaswegian voices, historic Scots and translation into Scots. Using my own experience and with reference to the work of other writers, I will share some of the creative challenges and joys and questions that arise from working in these voices, and explore topics such as authenticity, stereotyping, class and the changing face of language.

Ryuko Kubota, University of British Columbia

Two Faces of Neoliberal Communicative Competence: A Call for Transformation

Today’s increased scholarly attention to the multiple, hybrid, and fluid nature of linguistic forms and practices has generated such concepts as plurilingualism, translanguaging, metrolingualism, English as a lingua franca, and world Englishes. While this multi/plural turn highlights heterogeneity reflecting the current neoliberal expansion of capital and global human mobility, foreign language education policies and practices in many non-Anglophone countries exhibit monolithic and normative tendencies. This is seen in the policies with a sole emphasis on teaching English as a global language and the prevalence of standardized testing to assess achievement of goals in the name of educational accountability. This contradictory trend of centrifugal and centripetal forces within language studies reflects the neoliberal ideologies imposed on institutions and individuals. Specifically, globalized capitalism necessitates both tolerance for diversity and the development of a competitive edge over others. In this scheme, ability to communicate is conceptualized differently depending on the stakeholder.

Contradictory interpretations of the concept of communication are demonstrated in a recent Japanese government document evaluating language-in-education policies for fostering global human resources and Japanese corporate perspectives on what constitutes the ability to communicate. Analysis of the document and interviews with Japanese transnational corporate workers reveals the paradoxical nature of what can be called neoliberal communicative competence, which on the one hand conflates global communication with the four measurable skills in English, and on the other hand challenges the linguistic norms, foregrounding plurilingualism and co-constructed interactional competence. Transformation of policies and pedagogies needs to be sought without becoming complicit with neoliberal ideologies.

Sirpa Leppänen, University of Jyväskylä

Migrant parody on social media as transgressive digital work

The focus in my talk is interest-driven transgressive digital work as a telling example of work in globalized, technologized and post-industrial knowledge and attention economies (Eran & Fuchs 2015).

Drawing on insights provided by sociolinguistics, discourse-ethnographic studies and digital labour research and with the help of social media parody by Finland-based migrants, I will illustrate how transgressive digital work depends on the actors’ capacity to mobilize semiotic resources provided by language/s and other modalities that both orients to the (trans)cultural norms regulating such practices and subverts them in ways that can attract social media audiences (Häkkinen & Leppänen 2014).

With these cases, I will demonstrate how for many digital labourers such practices involve long-term work-like commitment but how they also involve vulnerability and risk. Importantly, despite its precariousness, this work also produces value. It is deeply critical in how it makes visible and engages with norms, distinctions and relations in power related to the lived realities of migrants: what and who they may and can be in the often hostile host society which projects onto them otherness, dangerousness and threat.

Eran, F. & C. Fuchs. 2015. Reconsidering value and labour in the digital age. New York. Palgrave MacMillan.

Häkkinen A. & S. Leppänen. 2014. YouTube Meme Warriors: Mashup Videos as Satire and Interventional Political Critique. eVarieng 15,, accessed January 15, 2015.

Marazzi, C. 2008. Capital and Language. New York: Semiotext(e).

Virno, P. 2004. A Grammar of the Multitude. New York: Semiotext(e).

Joanna McPake, University of Strathclyde

Early days of a better nation? Two decades of devising and implementing language learning policies in Scottish schools

When the Scottish Parliament was re-established, in 1999, writer and artist Alasdair Gray challenged us to “work as if you live in the early days of a better nation”. This opportunity to review, renew and innovate in all the areas for which the Parliament is responsible can be discerned across all policy fields in Scotland. Specifically in relation to languages education policy, it started a shift from a conventional focus on the teaching of ‘modern foreign languages’, to the recognition, valuing and promotion of a richer language ecology in Scotland’s increasingly multilingual schools: expanding the range of languages, starting language learning earlier, encouraging innovative approaches in using languages for learning, and building on existing languaging and translanguaging practices of classrooms and communities.

As elsewhere, policy formation and implementation in Scotland are influenced by global change, such as 9/11, superdiversity, and rapid technological innovation; and, closer to home, by the fallout from Brexit, and from the Scottish independence referendum of 2014. The long-lasting consequences of the financial crash of 2008 and ensuing austerity mean limited resources to implement bold educational policies. In this presentation, I draw on a range of studies concerned with Scottish language education policy over the last 20 years, to reflect on ways in which Scottish teachers, policy-makers, opinion formers and school communities have reviewed and renewed thinking around languaging, translanguaging and language learning, and begun to change school practices in challenging times.

Invited Colloquium:

Translation, Translanguaging, and the Arts

Arts-based approaches move beyond traditional research methods, offering new ways to engage with complex social and communicative practices. They enable researchers and artists to disrupt established presuppositions, and open up possibilities. In doing so they offer new understandings of the range and complexity of communicative repertoires in social life. This colloquium aims to provoke discussion about the nature of creative inquiry. It will ask questions about the value of arts-based approaches to social and linguistic research, and the value of research to arts-based practice. The presentations examine arts-based research in contexts of translation and translanguaging. The presentations will consider how research and the arts are not only complementary, but integral and mutually informing.

Adrian Blackledge University of Stirling (chair)

Voices of a City Market

This presentation is based on four months of ethnographic research conducted as part of the AHRC-funded project, Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities (TLANG). Field notes, transcripts, interviews, and images are curated alongside ethnographic poetry to evoke the smells, sights, and sounds of the market hall, and the polyphonic voices of the multilingual city.

Lou Harvey, University of Leeds

Title and abstract to follow

Heather Connelly, University of Lincoln

Title and abstract to follow

Languaging, Literacy and Pedagogy in Southern Africa

Language and literacy are currently theorised as socially, culturally, politically and historically situated sets of resources (Heller, 2007; Blommaert and Rampton, 2011) that are deeply heteroglossic, and that are part of wider multimodal or semiotic repertoires (Lin, 2019).  However this social and heteroglossic theorising is largely ignored in language, curriculum and assessment policies in schooling in the Global South.  Rather, policies reinforce a static view of autonomous languages and literacies, as well as parallel monolingualisms (Creese and Blackledge, 2010).   The problem of a single legitimate language, or single standard written language, and its negative consequences for children’s learning is however not unique to the Global South and deserves urgent attention.  The papers in this symposium proceed from a perspective of multilingualism or multi-languaging as the norm. They consider what it means to use heteroglossic language and literacy practices as productive resources for learning in contexts where single standard languages are seen as the only legitimate language.  Papers present research and dilemmas from a range of pedagogical and geographical contexts, including teaching early literacy and language and content integrated learning in South Africa and Mozambique.

Carolyn McKinney, University of Cape Town (chair)

Language Ideologies and languaging-for-learning in bi(multi)lingual children’s writing

This presentation explores the impact of language ideologies on children’s production of written texts in two different learning sites in South Africa.  Drawing on linguistic ethnography, I focus on the literacy practices children are engaged with firstly in a formal classroom setting, and secondly in an out of school writing camp.  In the formal school setting where isiXhosa speaking Year 4 children are learning Natural Science through the medium of English, I show how literacy is conceptualized in exclusively monoglossic ways, despite the heteroglossic written texts that children produce.  I argue that dominant monolingual and Anglonormative ideologies deeply constrain children’s opportunities to produce texts and to engage in languaging- for- learning.  In the out of school writing camp I show how a heteroglossic approach to language enables children to use their full linguistic repertoires and to co-construct multilingual written texts with their facilitators.  However, even in this site, children are expected to be able to produce monolingual texts in either isiXhosa or English for the published creative writing journal that is produced.   While far from legitimized, the widespread use of fluid language practices in classrooms discourse in the Global South is well documented.  Less explored is the impact of monoglossic ideologies on literacy practices and written text production.   The paper shows that even in pedagogical sites encouraging of fluid languaging practices, regimes of standard written languages constrain what children are enabled to produce.

Feliciano Chimbutane, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane

Languaging and Multilingual Pedagogies in African Post-Colonial Contexts

There are now diverse strands of research providing ample evidence to support the case for use of languaging and multilingual resources in classroom interaction as legitimate communicative and pedagogical strategies. However, in post-colonial Africa there is still a mismatch between official discourse, policy and implementation of these strategies, with educators tending to avoid or even proscribe the use of multilingual resources.

I discuss some of the educational and socio-political reasons why a multilingual ethos is still not filtering through to classroom contexts in post-colonial Africa and suggest a few ways to mitigate educators’ resistance to languaging and multilingual pedagogies. Drawing on the Sustainable Development Goal 4, I show how languaging and multilingual pedagogies are strategies to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education in multilingual Africa. However, I also argue that, despite the convincing evidence in favour of these strategies in the current literature, these still need to be tested in and adjusted to different contexts, including in African post-colonial contexts.

Leketi Makalela,  University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Title and abstract to follow

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