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Expert in the Spotlight in 2010: Elin Haf Jones

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Featured Expert / Area of focus:
Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones is director of the Mercator Institute for Media, Languages and Culture, based at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University in Wales. 

Ask Elin

Face to face with Elin Haf Jones

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/multilingualism? 
I’ve been working in this field for twenty years, starting out as a student researcher and now directing the work of the Mercator Institute for Media, Languages and Culture. Mercator-Media was instigated by the European Commission back in the late 1980s as part of its mission to enhance knowledge about minority languages, to encourage the flow of information and to promote intercultural exchange between communities.

Twenty years ago, none of us knew what would be ahead of us. ‘Minority languages’ were very much outside the mainstream European language agenda, and the gap between ‘official’ and the ‘other’ languages was very evident in European policy and action. Today, although there are still inequalities at play, we have seen that divide being bridged, and multilingualism and linguistic diversity can now embrace non-state languages too.

My own work is mainly in the field of media.  And during the same period, we have also seen a huge transformation in the media landscape. The number of television channels has exploded over the past two decades, and most significantly, the internet has revolutionised our communication.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

We are at a very exciting time in the history of media and communication and also in the field of linguistic diversity. As researchers, we need to develop tools that will help us better understand what is happening, but it is also an opportune moment to engage our communities in our work. Converged culture is built upon ‘participatory culture’, where we all become part of the creative process of production instead of being passive consumers, and also upon ‘collective intelligence’, which is created when we forge together our different knowledge’s. These two concepts are nothing new to ‘minority language’ communities, of course, and have been crucial in maintaining many of them, in the face of hostility or disregard on the part of the state.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

We will be hosting an international conference, ‘Media Convergence and Linguistic Diversity: How can the creative industries contribute to language vitality in a multiplatform environment?’ on May 18th and 19th this year in Aberystwyth. It is part of the Mercator Network of Conference and Expert workshops.  The call for papers has just closed, and we’ve got an exciting line up of topics and people. We are very eager to make it a meeting point for early career researchers and established scholars, and also for academics and practitioners.

My own interest lies in media convergence and its impact on the use of minority languages, media policy, the performance of culture and language in mediated contexts, language policies in the media, the construction of identity in the media – both personal and collective, the role of media in language normalization.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?

One of the Mercator Symposia held in Aberystwyth in recent years led to the publication of a seminal volume edited by Mike Cormack and Niamh Hourigan, entitled Minority Language Media: Concepts Critiques and Case Studies (Multilingual Matters, 2007).

We would very much like our forthcoming conference to instigate such a development that takes as its focus the changing landscape of the media, and the social, political and cultural landscape of multilingualism and linguistic diversity.

Mercator-Media’s publications - including Mercator Media Forum (University of Wales Press) the only international journal dedicated to the discussion of minority languages and the media, and the Mercator Media Monograph series can be found at

Do you have any questions on these topics? Ask Elin

Featured topic:
Our focus this month lies on minority languages and media in Europe.

Further reading on the upcoming conference on 18th – 19th of May 2010, Aberystwyth, Wales : ‘Media Convergence and Linguistic Diversity: How can creative industries contribute to language vitality in a multiplatform environment?