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Spanish & Portuguese Colloquium: Michéle E J Koven, Professor of Communications, UI: "Languages and Identities in Face-to-Face and Online Settings among Descendants of Portuguese Migrants in France"

Event Type
Social/Informal Event
Department of Spanish and Portuguese, European Union Center
Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana
Apr 11, 2019   4:00 - 5:00 pm  
Michéle E J Koven, Professor of Communications; Associate Professor of French and Italian, Illinois
Free and open to the public.
Originating Calendar
School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics Calendar

Abstract: Although rarely discussed in politically charged French discussions of immigration, the Portuguese are one of the largest extra-national communities in France. The Portuguese community in France is also well known for maintenance of Portuguese across generations. My talk provides an overview of my interdisciplinary research on the language practices of young people of Portuguese descent raised in France, known as Luso-descendants, as well as their own and others’ beliefs and attitudes about those language practices. I use theories and methods from sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology in order to treat language practices and ideologies as lenses through which to examine how Luso-descendants are positioned and position themselves across multiple nationally and internationally based hierarchies and contexts. I will review several past and current studies, using interviews, naturally occurring interactions, and social media. Across these studies, I show how Luso-descendants are often highly reflexive, anticipating how they themselves and others are perceived through their French and Portuguese speech. Participants treat different ways of speaking, within and across languages, as signs of “identity” that can reveal individual, familial, intergenerational, national, and international experiences and perspectives. 


Bio: Professor Koven researches the relationships between identity and language practices in migrant communities. She addresses how bilingual speakers enact multiple, culturally situated identities in talk, with a particular focus on narrative discourse. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago.

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