Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity

Author: Jan Blommaert

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Multilingual Matters
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Superdiversity has rendered familiar places, groups and practices extraordinarily complex, and the traditional tools of analysis need rethinking. In this book, Jan Blommaert investigates his own neighbourhood in Antwerp, Belgium, from a complexity perspective. Using an innovative approach to linguistic landscaping, he demonstrates how multilingual signs can be read as chronicles documenting the complex histories of a place. The book can be read in many ways: as a theoretical and methodological contribution to the study of linguistic landscape; as one of the first monographs which addresses the sociolinguistics of superdiversity; or as a revision of some of the fundamental assumptions of social science through the use of chaos and complexity theory as an inspiration for understanding the structures of contemporary social life.

Jan Blommaert offers a sweeping tour of the complex geographies of contemporary sociolinguistics. Effortlessly combining erudition with accessibility, he maps a new terrain for linguistic landscapes through the deeper contours of ethnography; all of which is grounded in the intimate, culturally diverse histories of his own backyard. This, argues Blommaert, is how sociolinguists should be looking to untether themselves from the stability and predictability of synchronic analysis and seeking instead to live (and research) in the moment.

This is not just another landmark book in Jan Blommaert's rich oeuvre. It's a conversation he's having with all of us on today's sociolinguistic landscapes. He argues they are chaotic and complex. His book is anything but. Written in cogent and clear style, provocative at times, boring never. A Berchem delight.

Both lucid and profound, integrating a compelling theoretical imagination with very practical methodology, this book is yet another remarkable advance in Blommaert's powerful remapping of sociolinguistics.

The text is clear, accessible and interspersed with practical examples of 'experienced' semioticised space. Blommaert never disappoints in his compassionate, original and thoroughly enjoyable narrative(...) For the LL postgraduate student, the text is useful because it discusses the main developments of LLS, identifies its shortcomings clearly and succinctly, and presents fresh data within a newly conceived framework.

Language Policy (2015) 14:305–307

This book contains valuable reflections on the role of sociolinguistics in describing critical phenomena in highly diverse urban contexts, and it is sure to inspire researchers in related areas of study.

Journal of Sociolinguistics, 2015-2016 (Volumes 19-20)

Jan Blommaert is Professor of Language, Culture and Globalization and Director of the Babylon Center for the Study of Superdiversity, Tilburg University (Netherlands) and Professor of Applied Linguistics, Center for Diversity and Learning, Ghent University (Belgium). His publications include Discourse: A Critical Introduction (CUP, 2005), The Sociolinguistics of Globalization (CUP, 2010) and Ethnographic Fieldwork: A Beginner's Guide (Multilingual Matters, 2010).

1. Introduction: New sociolinguistic landscapes

2. Historical bodies and historical space

3. Semiotic and spatial scope

4. Signs, practices, people

5. Change and transformation

6. The Vatican of the diaspora

7. Conclusion: the order of superdiversity

Postgraduate, Research / Professional
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