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Expert in the Spotlight in 2009: Gabrielle Hogan-Brun

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Featured expert /Area of focus:
Gabrielle Hogan-Brun works on migration and multilingualism; language ideologies; gate-keeping procedures for citizenship; minority communities and languages; discourse and the management of (cultural and linguistic) difference. Her particular area of expertise is Central Eastern Europe. Currently she is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, England, and Privatdozentin at Basel University, Switzerland.

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Face to face with Gabrielle Hogan-Brun

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages / education / multilingualism?
Being Swiss, I find multilingualism natural and strongly support it, having spent most of my life in Anglophone countries. I believe in the fundamental principle that language and cultural diversity are not only necessary and desirable but also universal rights. In my work I have always supported marginalized language groups, be they indigenous, migrant or non-territorial groups, such as the Sign Language and Roma communities. I have sought ways for members to find a voice through publishing, inter alia through my book series Palgrave Studies in Minority Languages and Communities, and in my co-editorship of the journal Current Issues in Language Planning.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?
The major challenge is that some countries do not seem to be inclined to uphold the principles of linguistic and cultural pluralism. This is currently reflected for example in gate-keeping measures being introduced in a number of national settings in an attempt to institutionalize means to stem migration. Therefore in my work I operate from the premise that languages are an asset and a resource, rather than a barrier and a problem. I focus on the promotion of diversity through education; encourage a dialogue that is informed by knowledge about the diversity of traditions, cultures and historical development between nations; interrogate issues relating to language, migration and citizenship.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?
Currently there are projects that focus on ‘doing’ (multilingualism, diaspora, nationalism) from below. Such work, for example, can provide insights into the promotion of bottom-up language management practices. This approach is increasingly popular and has the potential for regions in (socio-political) transition. An example is the EU-FP7 Dylan-project which investigates language dynamics and the management of diversity in workplaces.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?
EU-FP7 Dylan-project
Harris, Anita. 2009. 'Shifting the boundaries of cultural spaces: young
people and everyday multiculturalism' in Social Identities:  Vol. 15, No. 2., pp. 187-205.

How are you involved with the Mercator Network of Language Diversity Centres?

I have had the pleasure of long-term contact and interaction with members of the Mercator group, particularly since being invited as Discussant to a Sign Language Workshop held at the 2007 Mercator conference in Pecs, Hungary.

What are your expectations of your involvement within the Mercator Network? 
Academic exchange and collaboration. 

Do you have any questions on these topics?

Ask Gabrielle!

Featured topic:
Our focus this month lies on approaches to multilingualism in Eastern and Western Europe; doing multilingualism from below.

Further reading:
Palgrave Studies in Minority Languages and Communities
Current Issues in Language Planning