SPECIAL ISSUE: Advanced language politics in higher education

Posted 11 May 2018 by NISC under Announcements & Notices • Journal: Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
SPECIAL ISSUE: Advanced language politics in higher education

Like with many rapid changes caused by heightened mobility in the 21st century, languages can no longer be bound to time and space. They are fluid, versatile and overlap in moments of use rather than remain bounded in solos of their structures.

The movement for decolonising African universities is not new in Africa, but the scale with which South African students took to the streets and the level of complexity observed from their ultimate demand for both physical and epistemic access are notably unprecedented. Very little is known, however, about how these protests have forged advances in the politics of language in the higher education sector. 

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Volume 36, issue 1, is a special issue titled ‘Advanced language politics in South Africa’s higher education’. Focusing on relevant sociolinguistics of contemporary South Africa, this special issue includes both the empirical and theoretical papers that address, problematise and interrogate various aspects on this advanced language politics in South Africa’s higher education sector. 

A corollary to the #movements, i.e. #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall, was a language-specific focus, explicitly in the form of #AfrikaansMustFall movement, and tacit references to language as an impediment for access and success at universities. 

Because language is a precursor of equal opportunities and outcomes in society, this special issue considers the relationship between language and ways of knowing and being as critical regimes that a decolonising education system should address. In brief, there is an urgent need to interrogate the emergent terrain of language politics in South Africa’s higher education sector with an eye on distilling insights that can inform the enduring concerns of epistemic access, inequalities and success for all students at university. 

The editorial, titled, Advanced language politics in South African higher education post #RhodesMustFall  can be read here.

Taken together, the papers in this special issue show that the movement to decolonise the South African higher education systems has taken an unprecedented scale and urgency in order to transform institutional cultures and language policies that were founded on Western epistemologies and monolingual norms. The papers offer ground for advanced language politics in contemporary South Africa and infinite opportunities for theorising on the sociolinguistics of student protests.

Read more about the journal here

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