Salsa, Language and Transnationalism Author: Britta Schneider

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29 May 2014
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


What happens in globalised social contexts if people identify with a language that is not traditionally considered to be ‘their’ language? This unique contribution to the field of sociolinguistics scrutinises language ideologies of German and Australian Communities of Practice constituted by Salsa dance and asks what languages symbolise in transnational, non-ethnic cultures. Using ethnographic methodology and a deconstructive approach to language it examines these different Salsa communities and gives insight into the interaction of social discourses from local, national and transnational realms, examining differences, similarities and a simultaneous multiplicity of languages’ symbolic functions. This book will be welcomed by postgraduates, professional sociolinguists and linguistic anthropologists as well as scholars of cultural anthropology, sociology and cultural studies who are interested in the development of modernist categories in transnational culture.


Locating language choice and multilingualism at salsa parties on two different continents, this book offers a fresh and engaging way of doing sociolinguistics in the 21st century. On this global tour we meet dancers who embrace cosmopolitan, consumerist and strongly individualist identities at the same time that they cannot quite shake off the identities and ideologies of the nation state.

- Ingrid Piller, Macquarie University, Australia

By tracing transnational movements of Spanish together with salsa, Britta Schneider finds her way into a subtle, language-centered approach to globalization. Dancing between Germany and Australia, partnering ethnography with social critique, she has written an account which is interesting for its particulars, but also important as an argument for thinking about language together with bodily practices in new projects of global modernity.

- Joe Errington, Yale University, USA

In this light-footed, fast-turning study (language is as language does), Britta Schneider takes us into the salsa classes of Sydney and Frankfurt, asking why it is that these Latin cultural practices may or may not be accompanied by Spanish. This original and intriguing book asks what language means to people, what ideologies inform these understandings of language, and how these views on language are connected to other cultural practices, such as dancing.

- Alastair Pennycook, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

This book empirically justifies the theoretical necessity to reimagine the notion of language in the globalizing social system, which leading sociolinguists have called for in the last decade. This book demonstrates several important points that resonate with existing studies of the sociolinguistics of globalization, such as decoupling of linguistic and cultural authenticity, multiple layers of language practices and ideologies, and commodification of language and culture. However, this book does not lose sight of the nation-states roles in language practices in the transnational context.

- LINGUIST List 27.1074, 2016 - In Chull Jang, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada

Salsa, Language and Transnationalism is a unique and complex study about the deconstruction of the relationship between language ideologies and a cultural practice in transnational contexts. The novelty of this book lies in the object of study: while most studies have placed the center of attention on certain ethnic/national groups, Britta Schneider focuses on communities based on a Latin or Hispanic cultural practice – salsa dance in Germany and Australia. The research in these transnational salsa communities successfully stays away from the essentialist approach and abstains from the traditional “one-to-one” mapping of language and identity. At the same time, with the use of ethnographic observation and discourse analysis, the author moves beyond the national language discourses and offers an insightful discussion of the co-constitution of societal and cultural discourses and language ideologies in transnational salsa communities.

- Multilingua, 2015 - Giovanna Tang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Author Biography:

Britta Schneider is Lecturer in the Department for English Language and Literature at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Her research interests include sociolinguistics of globalisation, language ideology, language policy, epistemology of language and multilingualism, and superdiversity.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate

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