Language and transnationalism : language discourse in transnational Salsa communities of practice
- Language ideologies in contemporary Western societies are characterised by a strong influence of the idea that one language ‘pertains’ to one culture. Yet, cultural developments of globalisation, such as migration, the construction of transnational networks or global mass media, question national frameworks of culture and language.
In this thesis, after reviewing the field of language ideology and discussing historical examples of the development of national language discourse, language ideologies in a transnational context are examined. Using ethnographic research methods and a discursive approach to interview data, concepts and ideas revolving around language of transnational Communities of Practice constituted through Salsa dancing are analysed. Due to its connections to the Latin American cultural space, the practice of Salsa dancing in non-Latin contexts intrinsically constructs transnational ties. Different Salsa Communities of Practice are studied in Sydney, Australia, and Frankfurt, Germany. Interestingly, different local communities show very different ideologies concerning the role of language, multilingualism, concepts of authenticity or influences of capitalist discourse. The cross-national approach allows studying the influence of different national discourses on the formation of local ideologies in transnational contexts.
Thus, next to scrutinising the traditional concept of a ‘language’ and its relevance in a transnational age, the theoretical aim of this study is to analyse the interaction of discourses from different realms – local, regional, national, transnational – in the formation of contemporary discourses on language. These construct new symbolic meanings of language that co-exist next to the national concept of the relationship of language and culture, so that a multiplication of language boundaries can be considered to be a characteristic trait of contemporary language discourse.