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Sociolinguistics Symposium 19: Language and the City

Sociolinguistics Symposium 19

Freie Universität Berlin | August 21-24, 2012

Programme: accepted abstracts

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Abstract ID: 1317

Part of Session 193: Transcultural networks and neighborhoods (Other abstracts in this session)

Changing faces, changing spaces: a multiethnic neighborhood in a global city in South America

Authors: Moura, Selma de Assis
Submitted by: Moura, Selma de Assis (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil)

This paper aims at reflecting how diverse languages and linguistic practices are negotiated among young immigrant students in the popular neighborhood of Bom Retiro in São Paulo, Brazil. The research involves an ethnography of local and translocal connections in an urban neighborhood that have long been destination for migration.   

The particular linguistic landscape of this neighborhood reveals traces of the history and the presence over time of different linguistic and cultural groups that relocated to Brazil. These groups include Italians, Jews, and more recently, Koreans and Bolivians, who  brought to the neighborhood different languages and literacy practices. The Bolivian newcomers are a particularly heterogeneous group, as their languages repertoires include Spanish, Quechua and Aymara.

In this neighborhood the main economic activity for the past hundred years has involved mostly the garment industry, changing from large fabric factories to small sewing facilities with interconnected stores. Currently the Koreans dominate the garment business, and provide employment for the bolivian newcomers. As the first groups of settlers moved out of this neighborhood into more affluent neighborhoods, the new groups took ownership of different spaces, and made these spaces into their places, reassembling them in culturally and linguistically specific ways, imbuing them with new meanings. We investigate how, being part of this complex context, young immigrant multilingual students build, negotiate and promote their identities and participate in the local and global relationships.

References: 

Backhaus, P. (2007) Linguistic landscapes: a comparative study of urban multilingualism in Tokyo. Clevendon, Avon: Multilingual Matters.

Blommaert J, J. Collins & S. Slembrouck (2005). Spaces of multilingualism. Language & Communication 25: 197-216.

Scollon, R. & Scollon, S. (2003) Discourses in place: language in the material world. London: Routledge.

Shohami, E. & D. Gorter. (eds.) 2009. Linguistic landscapes: expanding the scenery. London: Routledge.

Stroud, C. & Mpendukhana, S. (in press). Material ethnography of multiculturalism: linguistic landscapes in the township of Kayelitsha. In S. Gardner and M. Martin Jones (eds.) Multilingualism, discourse and ethnography. New York: Routledge.

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