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Accepted Paper:

Language and shifting borders   
Kara Fleming (KIMEP University) Juldyz Smagulova (KIMEP University)


In this talk we take an interdisciplinary perspective to consider the relationship between language and the movement or reimagining of political borders. In sociolinguistics, there has been considerable interest in mobility and contact among speakers and languages, including work on language and migration (e.g. Canagarajah 2017; Horner and Dailey-O’Cain 2019), language contact (Lim and Ansaldo 2016) and language in ‘border zones’ (Carvalho 2014; Watt and Llamas 2014). Yet we argue that the border has often been taken for granted in sociolinguistics as a pre-existing object. On the other hand, in political geography and geopolitics, there is already a robust theorization of borders as “socio-cultural and discursive processes and practices” (Brambilla 2015: 15). Yet scholars in these fields rarely engage with detailed empirical linguistic and discourse data on border production, which sociolinguistics is well-positioned to do. We combine these approaches to consider how borders are discursively produced and how borders impact the social construction of language use. We frame our discussion with reference to a case study where borders are/have been shifted and reimagined, namely the case of Dungans in Kazakhstan. Dungans have experienced multiple instances of shifting borders, and we examine interview data to trace how they draw on different historical narratives which emphasize their presence in the Russian empire and the Soviet Union to construct themselves as legitimate participants in modern Kazakhstan. We seek to illustrate how a theorization of borders informed by work in political geography can engage with the empirical richness offered by sociolinguistics to provide an important perspective on how individuals and social groups make sense of border changes and corresponding shifts in socio-political reality.

Panel LANG01
Languages in Contemporary Eurasia
  Session 1 Thursday 6 June, 2024, -