Researching urban multilingualism on the move: Walking as research method

Starts 18 May 2018 - 18:00
Finishes 18 May 2018 - 20:00
Venue room 414, Malet Street, Birkbeck University of London
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Event description

Jackie Lou (Birkbeck)


This paper explores walking as an ethnographic method in research on urban multilingualism. Along with recent growth of theoretical interest in mobility in sociolinguistics, researchers have also begun to employ mobile methodology to examine language and social interactions on the move. This approach is particularly advantageous in generating insights about people’s relationship with place and thus enables a deeper understanding of how individuals perceive and experience landscapes, including linguistic and semiotic landscapes. Drawing from two completed projects in Washington, DC’s Chinatown and Hong Kong and an ongoing project in London's Chinatown, this talk will demonstrate three types of mobile methods: participatory walks, walking with video, and narrated walks, and discuss their affordances and constraints. These examples illustrate how whilst walking, individual participants actively and continuously draw on their linguistic, semiotic, cultural, and economic resources to make sense of the landscape around them, which has a profound impact on senses of belonging or alienation. The talk will conclude with some reflections on walking as mediating and mediated action.