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Symposium: Multilingual Turns: New Perspectives on Cross-Cultural Communication

When May 17, 2016
from 10:00 to 04:00
Where Phil I, GCSC, R. 001
Contact Name
Contact Phone (+49) 0641 99 30130
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This joint symposium, hosted by Research Area 5 in collaboration with the DAAD-Netzwerk ‘Kulturelle Kontakt- und Konfliktzonen im östlichen Europa’, explores cultural aspects of the concept of multilingualism. Multilingualism is an important concept for disciplines ranging from education and linguistics to history and social sciences. The aim of this symposium is to bring these various perspectives together in order to find common ground for developing multilingualism as travelling concept to be used in the study of culture.


The precise definition of multilingualism is itself subject to debate, though in its broad sense it may be defined as ‘the capacity of societies, institutions, groups and individuals to engage on a regular basis in space and time with more than one language in everyday life’ (Franceschini 2009: 33). This capacity opens up numerous disciplinary and inter-disciplinary questions. In an educational context, scholars like Claire Kramsch and Bonny Norton have drawn attention to potentialities of the multilingual classroom, where ‘students may begin to see one another as part of a social network in which their symbolic resources can be produced, validated, and exchanged’ (Norton 1995: 28). In a political context, multilingualism plays a crucial role in the formation of communities (linguistic, political, intellectual), as code-switching and the relationship between dominant and minority languages help to constitute national and communal identities.


Recently, scholars have begun to draw attention to the implications which multilingualism has for other concepts such as subjectivity and (digital) media. In her book The Multilingual Subject, Claire Kramsch has explored the ways in which ‘the subject’s internal sense of coherence and continuity over time is socially constructed via the symbolic system and the idealized cognitive models available in the community’ (Kramsch 2009: 20). Meanwhile, Suely Fragoso has drawn attention to ways in which different linguistic groups interact on social networking sites (Fragoso 2006). By bringing these diverse perspectives together, this symposium aims to lift the concept of multilingualism out of its specific disciplinary contexts, and open up dialogues to arrive at a common understanding of this concept as applied in the study of culture.


The symposium will take the form of a chaired roundtable discussion, with 12 impulse presentations (6 from the GCSC and 6 from the DAAD-Netzwerk). There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion to open out the implications of the presentations and consider how they speak to one another other across disciplinary borders.


Contact Names

Dr. Tom Clucas (GCSC):

Ksenia Maksimovtsova (GCSC):

Nevena Stamenkovic (GCSC):

Dr. Nazarii Gutsul (DAAD):

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