Book Launch - The Politics of Palestinian Multilingualism: Speaking for Citizenship

Event: Nancy Hawker will be in conversation with Deborah Cameron on the occasion of the launch of her new book The Politics of Palestinian Multilingualism: Speaking for Citizenship (Routledge 2019).

Abstract: In the governing institutions of Israel, Arabic is suppressed. This practice crystallised in the early years of the state. Also, Arabic-speakers who also speak Hebrew make linguistic choices that result in the avoidance of Arabic in situations where Jewish Israelis are also present. These two elements form the sociolinguistic habitus of the Palestinians and other Arabs in the area controlled by Israel. When speaking Arabic, to give their propositions authority, their discursive strategies mobilise multilingual repertoires, including codeswitching and borrowing, for rhetoric effect and style. The analysis moves away from scholarship that has been concerned ‘language endangerment’ which has channeled concerns about political problems. The Palestinian multilinguals are performing the aspirations of an emergent middle class elite. On the political stage, this elite challenges the ethnorepublican political structures of Israel, as well as ethnonationalist campaigns, with different inhabitations of citizenship that envisage liberal equality, dignity and autonomy. Under conditions of late capitalism, multilingual language skills are re-packaged as marketable resource: this creates value, but in a contested way, with ambivalent opportunities. With new evidence from recent and historical political discourse, this book is about how speakers of an institutionally marginalised language engage with the political system multilingually.

Organiser: The Governance Programme at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations.

Speakers: Dr Nancy Hawker and Prof Deborah Cameron

Time: Tuesday 25 June 2019, 18.00-20.00

Venue: Atrium Conference Room, Aga Khan Centre, 10 Handyside Street, London N1C 4DN

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