Language and Identity in Europe

The Multilingual City and its Citizens

by Lorna Carson (Volume editor) George Kam Kwok (Volume editor) Caroline Smyth (Volume editor)
©2020 Edited Collection XIV, 264 Pages


This book brings together research perspectives on the theme of European linguistic and cultural identity. Its chapters are the responses of rising European researchers to the challenges of language and identity in the context of a multilingual Europe, particularly in urban settings. The authors explore the extent to which diversity, and in particular linguistic diversity, affects identity formation across the European Union, from Ireland to Bulgaria, and beyond its borders. These chapters illustrate both the importance of the theme and the potential for further development in theory, policy and praxis. Readers will find this volume to be an informative and useful springboard for a deeper understanding of language and identity in complex social contexts within an evolving geopolitical and cultural landscape.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of figures
  • List of tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction (Maria Stoicheva and Lorna Carson)
  • 1 European multilingual cities and their citizens: Research perspectives (Penka Hristova, Daniela Modrescu, Dilyana Pavlova and Lorna Carson)
  • 2 Linguistic and cultural diversity in Italy: The case of the city of Prato (Piero Ianniello)
  • 3 Towards urban inclusion: The case of an urban borderland (Jingjing Li)
  • 4 Identity and community: The heritage community of Plovdiv (Plamena Zayachka)
  • 5 The virtual multilingual city (Denitza Gencheva)
  • 6 Development of a philosophical-anthropological concept of personality (Vihren Evgeniev Mitev)
  • 7 Language and identity: The case of some Moroccan immigrants and their direct descendants in post-war France (Yacine Chemssi)
  • 8 Syrian refugee resettlement in Ireland: Language, cultural identity and diversity in host communities beyond the metropolis (Bronagh Ćatibušić)
  • 9 Multilingual practices in primary education in Europe: A scoping review (Kathleen McTiernan, Aoife Parkes and Lorna Carson)
  • 10 Transnational academic mobility: The experience of Bulgarian Fulbright scholars (Desislava Karaasenova)
  • 11 The role of language in doctoral training in the European Higher Education Area (Nikolina Tsvetkova and Nadya Birezhakli)
  • 12 English-medium instruction and socio-cultural competence development in high schools in Bulgaria (Tanya Borisova)
  • 13 Building skills for understanding literary texts through multicultural competence (Maria Metodieva Genova)
  • 14 Increasing nationalistic tendencies in Europe’s political systems: A threat to the EU? (Dominika Cevárová)
  • 15 The Kurdish minority: A factor influencing Turkey’s migration policy? (Barbora Hrozenská)
  • 16 Language in the institutional formation of the EU: ‘Protecting financial interests’ as a history of a narrative (Nikolay Yanev)
  • Notes on contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

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The editors wish to acknowledge the support of the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Programme1 which enabled the EUROMEC Jean Monnet network to come to life as an active laboratory of European identities and multilingualism, ably co-ordinated by a team led by Professor Maria Stoicheva at Sofia University in Bulgaria. We are grateful to Ms Caitríona O’Brien, Mr John Egan and Mr Chang Zhang in Trinity College Dublin for their helpful contributions to the preparation of our manuscript. We also thank the reviewers who provided valuable feedback on early drafts of our manuscript. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the contributions of all the authors who worked with passion and patience as we compiled this volume.

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1 The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained herein.

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maria stoicheva and lorna carson


This book brings together research perspectives on the themes explored within the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Network: ‘European Identity, Culture, Exchanges and Multilingualism’ (EUROMEC). The contributions that form this volume are the responses of rising European researchers to the challenges of language and identity in the context of a multilingual Europe. The Jean Monnet network that ran formally from 2014 to 2017, and continues in bilateral partnerships, aimed to build knowledge for researchers on the themes of European identity, culture, European citizenship, exchanges and multilingualism. The network was established and co-ordinated by the Faculty of Philosophy, Sofia University ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’, and supported by the Jean Monnet activities of the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme.

The chapters that follow are the result of a formal call for contributions following EUROMEC’s third summer school (Trinity College Dublin, June 2017), which set its locus in the contemporary European city and explored the extent to which diversity, and in particular linguistic diversity, affects identity formation in the European context. The summer school provided an exciting opportunity for early career researchers from various areas within the arts, humanities and social sciences to engage actively in the study of identity in European urban contexts alongside a team of expert academic researchers from the world’s most eminent universities.

The Jean Monnet scheme is dedicated to promoting excellence in European Union (EU) studies worldwide. Jean Monnet activities have a history of more than twenty-five years and have provided support mainly to European integration studies in universities, involving more than 800 universities in nearly eighty countries of the world, thus becoming a major factor for promoting excellence in European studies and EU research. These projects aim to build bridges between academics, researchers and EU ←1 | 2→policymakers. The EUROMEC network brought together Jean Monnet chairs and researchers in the area of European identity, culture, citizenship, mobility and multilingualism, drawn from seven European universities (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland; Durham University, UK; the University of Luxembourg; Trinity College Dublin, Ireland; Matej Bel University, Banská Bystrica, Slovakia and Leuven University, Belgium) and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China. The network was co-ordinated by Sofia University in Bulgaria, and several of the chapters that follow reflect the high level of research activity at Sofia University on topics of European identity, culture and education.

European identity formation, in this context, is identified as an overarching theme of the EUROMEC network with three dimensions of more focused research activity: research into the patterns of European identity and citizenship among students studying courses in the area of European studies, the issue of emerging young European researchers’ identities during their doctoral studies and identities in urban contexts. The network’s researchers argue that the European city and the contemporary European university are loci and drivers of transformation. These chapters illustrate both the importance of the topic and the potential for further development both in theory (understanding the changing face of European cities and the accommodation of their multiple languages) and policy (urban policies and in particular language policies and the extent to which change is needed).

The first chapter provides a comprehensive overview of research foci, methods and concerns in the area of urban multilingualism. It surveys the range of theoretical and empirical approaches that have characterized the study of the contemporary multilingual city, and provides readers with a foundation of terms, definitions and instruments used by scholars from different disciplines as they try to grasp how languages and speakers interact in Europe’s urban spaces.

The next three chapters explore case studies of European cities – Prato (Italy), Brussels (Belgium) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) – where issues of identity and belonging are in flux. Prato is one of Italy’s most diverse small cities and is home to one of Europe’s largest Chinatowns. Piero Ianniello explains how Prato’s educational system manages the educational inclusion ←2 | 3→of migrant children. Brussels is similarly a site of pronounced social, ethnic and linguistic heterogeneity. Jingjing Li describes the Recyclart initiative, an innovative civic, bottom-up practice which is attempting to engage with the city’s development policy in the area of urban inclusion. Recyclart represents both an artistic space and a community which meets the needs of residents through the transformation of neglected public space in the city. The case study of the ancient city of Plovdiv explores connection and belonging with the city’s industrial past, and the creation of a new heritage community. Plamena Zayachka examines how Plovdiv’s citizens became actively engaged in the process of collective cultural preservation targeting the city’s former tobacco warehouses.

The next four chapters examine the theme of language and identity. Chapter 5 moves from physical city space to the virtual multilingual city. Denitza Gencheva describes a corpus study of code-switching in the Bulgarian-language community on Facebook, which is predominantly bilingual (Bulgarian-English). In this online community, she argues that speakers of lesser-used languages may be compelled to adopt the use of majority languages in order to participate fully in the digital arena. Vihren Evgeniev Mitev takes this area further in the next chapter, where he draws on the work of Judith Harris to elucidate a theory of personality, which addresses the importance of language in the process of its formation, according to research in the field of philosophical anthropology. Chapter 7 continues with the theme of language and identity and addresses the case of Moroccan immigrants and their direct descendants in post-war France. Reporting on an ethnographic study, Yacine Chemssi compares the process of linguistic identity negotiation among the early Moroccan Muslim immigrants’ generation and that of first French-born descendants’ generation in post-World War II France. In Chapter 8, Bronagh Ćatibušić broadens the discussion of language and cultural identity beyond the metropolis in her review of issues related to Syrian refugee resettlement in Ireland. She considers some implications of resettlement for both refugees and host communities outside major urban areas.

The next five chapters turn to matters of language education policy and practice. Kathleen McTiernan, Aoife Parkes and Lorna Carson report on a systematic review of approaches to multilingual education in the ←3 | 4→primary sector in Europe’s schools. Desislava Karaasenova addresses transnational academic mobility in the academic sector, reporting on an interview study of Bulgarian scholars who travelled to the United States under the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program. She examines the effect of culturally conditioned assumptions and orientations on their actions and reactions during their mobility. Continuing with the theme of academic training, in Chapter 11, Nikolina Tsvetkova and Nadya Birezhakli investigate the role of language in doctoral training in the European Higher Education Area. Drawing on a corpus of qualitative data collected among doctoral students of social sciences at Sofia University in Bulgaria, they identify key aspects of Ph.D. education related to first and second language use and explore the role of language in developing perceptions of belonging within a research community.


XIV, 264
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2020 (October)
Language identity migration Language and Identity in Europe: The Multilingual City and its Citizens Lorna Carson Chung Kam Kwok Caroline Smyth
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2020. XIV, 264 pp., 5 fig. b/w, 7 tables.

Biographical notes

Lorna Carson (Volume editor) George Kam Kwok (Volume editor) Caroline Smyth (Volume editor)

Lorna Carson, FTCD, is Head of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, where she is an Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics and Director of the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies. Her recent publications include The Multilingual City: Vitality, Conflict and Change (2016). Chung Kam Kwok is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow based in the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies at Trinity College Dublin. His research and teaching focus on the intersection of language, identity and motivation. Caroline Smyth coordinates the university’s institution-wide language programme run by the Centre for Language and Communication Studies at Trinity College Dublin, where she is also a doctoral researcher working on the topic of technology-enhanced language learning.


Title: Language and Identity in Europe