Translingual practices and neoliberal policies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Scopus citations


In this book, I respond to recent criticisms that the research and theorization of multilingualism by applied linguists are in collusion with neoliberal policies and economic interests. While acknowledging that neoliberal agencies can appropriate diverse languages and language practices, including resources and dispositions theorized by scholars of multilingualism, I argue that we have to distinguish the language ideologies informing communicative practices. Those of neoliberal agencies are motivated by distinct ideological orientations that diverge from the theorization of multilingual practices by critical applied linguists. I draw from my empirical research on skilled migration to demonstrate how sub-Saharan African professionals in English-dominant workplaces in UK, USA, Australia, and South Africa resist the neoliberal communicative expectations to deploy alternate practices informed by critical dispositions. These practices have the potential to reconfigure neoliberal orientations to material development. I label the latter as informed by a postcolonial language ideology, to distinguish it from that of neoliberalism. While neoliberal agencies keep languages separated and hierarchical, treating them as instrumental for profit-making purposes, my informants focus on the synergy between languages to generate new meanings and norms, which are strategically negotiated for ethical interests, inclusive interactions, and holistic ecological development. I thus clarify that the way critical scholars and multilinguals relate to language diversity is different from the way neoliberal policies and agencies use multilingualism for their purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpringerBriefs in Linguistics
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages66
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameSpringerBriefs in Linguistics
ISSN (Print)2197-0009
ISSN (Electronic)2197-0017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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