Troubling translanguaging: Language ideologies, superdiversity and interethnic conflict
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This paper looks at how histories of conflict and ideologies of language as a bounded entity mapped onto a homogeneous nation impact on attempts of translanguaging in the classroom in the conflict-affected context of Greek-Cypriot education. Drawing on ethnographic data from a highly diverse primary school, this study examines how nationalist understandings of language and belonging affect the ways in which a group of Turkish-speaking students of Pontian and Turkish-Bulgarian backgrounds relate to their Turkish-speakerness in classroom interaction. The findings show that, despite the multilingual and hybrid realities of this particular school, in formal educational practices Turkish-speaking students kept a low profile as to their Turkish-speakerness. Even when the teacher encouraged translanguaging practices and a public display of students' competence in the Turkish language, this was met with inarticulateness and emotional troubles, fuelled by a fear that 'speaking Turkish' could be taken as 'being Turkish'. In discussing these findings, the paper points to the impact that different overlapping histories of ethnonationalist conflict have on translanguaging practices in education; in our case by associating Turkishness with the 'enemy group' and socializing children within essentialist assumptions about language and national belonging. The paper argues that in this case the discourses of conflict create unfavourable ecologies for hybrid linguistic practices, which ultimately suppress creative polylingual performances.