Multilingualism: Global South and Global North Perspectives
The world has always been predominantly multilingual, but in recent decades globalization and the attendant processes of mobility and technologization have catapulted multilingualism into unprecedented levels of public and academic attention. Benefits of multilingualism are actively investigated across neurocognitive, academic, economic, and social domains. At the same time, misunderstanding and mismanagement of multilingualism have also been shown by research to curtail the educational, socioeconomic, and personal opportunities of multilingual individuals, families, and communities. Today’s multilingualism can be the site for overt and covert oppression, a lived experience that is a gift for some and a curse for others, patterning along structural forces related to inequitable distribution of material and symbolic resources in the world, and rooted in histories of (post)colonial domination and human mobility. In light of these paradoxes, research must be able to account for both multilingual learning and multilingual practices at different nested levels – societies, schools and classrooms, communities and families, minds and brains – while never losing sight of material, ideological, and geopolitical inequities. Moreover, the dynamics of multilingualism can vary across diverse Global South and Global North contexts in ways that create resonances and differences and demand innovative research lenses. Reflecting this complex agenda, GURT 2020 will focus on the relation between multilingual learning and multilingual practices, globalization, and social justice with two goals: (a) to bring together research on multilingualism spanning the full spectrum of psycholinguistic-cognitive and sociolinguistic-critical approaches and (b) to facilitate dialogue about multilingualism as it is lived and investigated across diverse contexts in the Global North and the Global South.