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Multilingual Identities: New Global Perspectives

Edited By Inke Du Bois and Nicole Baumgarten

The contributions in this volume shed light on lived multilingualism around the globe. A small, but still representative selection of the multitude of migrant experiences, all studies share the intertwining of geographical mobility and non-mainstream linguistic practices which serves as a resource of agency and promotes alternative multiple identities of the immigrant speakers. This volume is based on the two core tenets of sociolinguistic identity research. First, it accepts the idea that identities or sub-identities are in a sense pre-given and can be formulated through membership categories. Second, identities are viewed as being enacted and performed, thus constituting social realities. In the social construction of identity, national and linguistic boundaries dissolve. The originating countries of the participants (and/or their ancestors) in the studies of this volume include Argentina, Ethiopia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Morocco, the Phillipines, Korea, Kazakhstan, Suriname and India. The countries of immigration include Germany, the USA, Israel, France and the Netherlands.


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Introduction: New questions in research on multilingual identities in migration contexts. Inke Du Bois and Nicole Baumgarten


Introduction: New questions in research on multilingual identi- ties in migration contexts Inke Du Bois and Nicole Baumgarten 1. Migration, multilingualism and identity A young woman with a headscarf, jeans and sneakers stands across from me (I. D.) in the local train in Hamburg, Germany. She leads an animated conversation with someone on her smart phone in a language I do not understand – but given the sounds it could be Arabic or Farsi. The foreign sounds continue for several seconds and, to my surprise, the young wom- an says in German “das hat er da gepostet” (‘he posted it’) – again followed by a several utterances in the language I cannot clearly identify. The animated conversation continues for minutes, the woman’s utterances and words appear to merge into a new language, a mixed hybrid (at least half of which I cannot understand). I wonder about her interesting appearance and the seeming shemozzle of her talk. She speaks Standard German, without a second lan- guage accent. In her mid-twenties, her clothing and accessories are a semiotic code of her identity: the brand sneakers, skinny jeans, the smart phone and her petrol-colored headscarf project a new migrant phenomenon in Germany: This young woman’s appearance combines a synthesis of Western and Muslim fashion style. Modern Western cultural artifacts, the smart phone, the sneakers and skinny jeans go together with the headscarf, symbolizing at least outwardly adherence to a lifestyle patterned by Muslim religious beliefs. Back in 1990s Germany, Muslim migrant woman on urban streets...

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