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'Multilingual & Multicultural Communication' Day at SOAS (Univ of London)

On the 17th of June, 2013, over 80 practitioners, researchers, students, and others from different parts of the world, working across disciplines, discussed a wide range of issues within the theme of 'Multilingual & Multicultural Communication' (M&MC) at the Vernon Sq Campus of SOAS (University of London). 

The International Association of Language and Social Psychology (IALSP) and The International Communication Association (ICA) teamed up with SOAS, University of London and Mercator/ Fryske Akademy to organise this one-day symposium.

A rather early beginning (registration at 8.15 am) and a warm welcome were followed by an introduction by the co-chairs, Howard Giles (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA) & Itesh Sachdev (SOAS, UK), who expressed concern at the parlous attention to M&MC in many areas of academic enquiry including communication studies, interpersonal and social psychology, and linguistics. Lid King (The Language Company, UK) and Dina Mehmedbegovic (Institute of Education, London, UK) began the main proceedings with a presentation on urban diversity with a special focus on London (UK). Reinier Salverda and Cor van der Meer (Mercator/Fryske Akademy, Fryslân, the Netherlands) then discussed the importance of regional and minority languages with data on trilingual education in Fryslan, and alsodiscussed opportunities for regional and minority languages in using new media. 

Francois Grin (Geneva, Switzerland) provided a critical economic analysis of lingue franche, while emotions were stirred, and expressed, multilingually by Jean Marc Dewaele’s (Birkbeck, UK) presentation. Following a delicious vegetarian lunch (according to feedback & provided by a SOAS Students Union team), the afternoon’s proceedings shifted to M&MC across time and space with Li Wei (Birkbeck, UK) focussing on the import of the diaspora, while Anne Pauwels (SOAS, UK) explored cyber-space. Rupert Brown (Sussex, UK), while sidestepping issues of language, provided an important intergroup perspective on acculturation (relevant for modelling M&MC). The task of modelling M&MC was taken on in the final session by the co-organisers, and Howard Giles dynamically presented a wide range of models that culminated in arguing for the importance of integrating notions of cosmopolitanism in current theorising and future research. The final panel discussion proved to be lively and stimulating enough for most of the participants to continue their deliberations more informally at a convivial reception at SOAS (some even stayed long enough for spicy vegetarian Ethiopian fare nearby in London!). Sarah Cartwright was the unofficial photographer, while Imke Djouadj, Ellen Foote & Nadia Sarkhoh made easy work of the administrative aspects.

(on the picture fltr: François Grin, Cor van der Meer, Rupert Brown, Itesh Sachdev, Anne Pauwels,  Jean-Marc Dewaele, Reinier Salverda, Li Wei, Dina Mehmedbegovic, Howard Giles)

Programme and abstracts