Call for Papers for a Special Issue in Modern Africa 7(1)

Edited by Natascha Bing & Stephanie Rudwick

Title: Doing Language, Ethnicity and Nation  

The intended Special Issue focuses on the interplay of language, ethnicity and nation in Africa as well as in the negotiation of linguistic and extra-linguistic interests, and the utilization of power in these intersecting dynamics. It is based on the panel “Doing Language, Ethnicity and Nation” which was held at the conference of the African Studies Association in Germany (VAD e.V.), in Leipzig on July 28, 2018. The volume is open to papers involving the topic that were not presented during this panel.

The understanding of language as a bounded system, as a Herderian-type ideologies of ‘pure’ languages and the construction of an inextricable link between language, ethnicity, and nation constitute one of the major inheritances of colonial linguistics. In Africa, languages in this narrow sense keep being entangled with ethnic and national trajectories that unite and fragment people and stir contested identity politics. And yet, the ethnolinguistic assumption (Blommaert et al. 2012: 7), i.e. the idea that language is inextricably linked to a specific identity and nation in a monolithic way is rather far removed from the realities of sociolinguistic practices, communication patterns and complex identity trajectories in Africa. Nonetheless, language in Africa continues to be caught in a complex web of socio-political dynamics involving questions of ethnicity and nationalism.

The aim of this Special Issue is to showcase a variety of current research projects that tackle the broad concepts of ‘ethnicity’, ‘nation’ and ‘language’ in order to advance the study of contemporary Africa framed in historical, cultural, sociolinguistic and geopolitical terms. The papers share a common aim to critically interrogate essentialist sociolinguistic identity politics on the African continent and to question terminologies and concepts from the global North in terms of their explanatory power. We invite papers which provide new empirical evidence from the African context, as well as papers focusing on methodological and theoretical concerns and we particularly welcome multi- and interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations.

Full papers including a maximum of 7000 words should be submitted online by September 28th, 2018 at the Manuscript Online platform of Modern Africa.

All contributors are required to consult the Author’s Guidelines prior to submission. All papers will subsequently undergo a standard double-blind peer-review process.