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The University of Southampton
Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research

Reflexive language and ethnic minority activism in Hong Kong: A linguistic anthropological approach Seminar

16:00 - 17:30
15 March 2017
Building 65 Lecture Theatre C (1175) Avenue Campus SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Prof Roumyana Slabakova at .

Event details

Part of the annual seminar series for the Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR).

This talk engages with Archer’s call to further research on reflexivity and social change under conditions of late modernity (2007, 2010, 2012) from the perspective of existing work on reflexive discourse in the language disciplines (Silverstein 1976, Lucy 1993). Drawing from a sociolinguistic ethnography of the networked trajectories of a group of working-class South Asian youth in Hong Kong (Pérez-Milans & Soto 2014), I analyze the trajectory of Sita, a Hong Kong-born young female with Nepali background. In her trajectory, performative acts of ethnic minority-based activism emerge as key in the enactment of a given set of values, stances, types of persona and situated forms of alignment/disalignment. That is to say, Sita’s enactment of activism is seen in this article as tied to a discourse register (Agha 2007: 147). As such, ‘talking/doing activism’ is inter-textually linked to a speech chain network of a group of secondary school students, teachers, researchers and community-based minority activists engaged with Sita in various interrelated projects for social empowerment. Analysis of interview transcripts, online chats and multimodal artifacts shows the extent to which the coordinated formation of this discourse register probed useful in providing Sita with relevant cultural capital (Bourdieu 1986) with which she shaped her own academic trajectory, from a low-prestige government-subsidized secondary school to an elite international college.

Speaker information

Miguel Pérez-Milans, UCL Institute of Education, University College London. I am interested in language, interaction, social identity, institutions, and ideology. My latest projects involve the ethnographic and sociolinguistic study of language and cultural ideologies through discursive practices in educational spaces in London, Madrid, Mainland China and Hong Kong. In particular, I have paid close attention to schools' local practices and trajectories of identification of youth vis-à-vis wider institutional, national and international policies shaped by: a) mobility and migration; b) shifting politics of national identity; c) institutional neoliberalization; and d) commodification of language and culture.

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