Exercising linguistic citizenship through Coloured narratives
Van Niekerk, Lauren
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This project explores the negotiation of shifting racial identities within a transforming post-Apartheid context, in particular, the negotiation of what it means to be ‘coloured’. Twenty-seven years into South Africa’s democracy, the power and influence that race and language hold over many South Africans’ are still prominent within this country. Because race is historically intersected with language and social class, language is used as an instrument of racialization. Therefore, this project seeks to understand how coloured racial and linguistic identities, which are steeped in complexity and ambiguity, are navigated by participants. It will focus, in particular, on how participants engage with Afrikaans and Kaaps to navigate these complexities and signal alignments and ambivalences. Additionally, this research aims to explore the potential of multilingualism to be a dynamic factor in the inclusive transformation of historical positions. Its central aim is to contribute to the notion of Linguistic Citizenship (Stroud, 2001, 2015, 2018, 2021) by capturing how linguistic encounters and interactions can go beyond the defined subjectivities of race and ethnicity, and how people use language to challenge and subvert historical and more contemporary identities. The data draws on focus group discussions with UWC students and the narratives produced within these spaces. It will draw on contemporary scholarship in Sociolinguistics, Discourse and Narrative Analysis and Linguistic Citizenship to explore how participants perform acts of Linguistic Citizenship to showcase their agency and voice as language and narratives become a site where identity juxtapositions are laid bare, and participants and their (racial and linguistic) identities are reimagined.