Grassroots multilingualism in Africa Town in China

On a backstreet in Africa Town in Guangzhou, 2013, Photograph by Han, H. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Huamei Han

Where to Learn More

Han, H. (2013). Individual grassroots multilingualism in Africa Town in Guangzhou: The role of states in globalization from below. International Multilingual Research Journal. 7(1), 83-97.

Drawing on the first phase of a larger sociolinguistic ethnography, this article explores how individual migrants of African and Chinese backgrounds expand their multilingual repertoires in Africa Town in Guangzhou, China. Focusing on two cases, I demonstrate how they maintain and develop transnational and translocal connections simultaneously (Levitt & Glick Schiller, 2004) and how this constitutes the processes of expanding multilingual repertoires without instruction. I illustrate that these processes are shaped by material and symbolic resources, including premigration linguistic repertoires, intersecting with states. I argue that individual multilingual repertoires index life trajectories (Blommaert & Backus, 2011) that are enabled and constrained by resources accumulated in countries and regions that are ranked differently within the world geopolitical order (Levitt & Jaworsky, 2007).

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