Language Investment in the Trajectories of Mobile, Multilingual Humanitarian Workers

Details

Serval ID
serval:BIB_D5D5C739CADA
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Title
Language Investment in the Trajectories of Mobile, Multilingual Humanitarian Workers
Journal
International Journal of Multilingualism
Author(s)
Garrido Maria Rosa
Publication state
Published
Issued date
2020
Volume
17
Number
1
Pages
62-79
Language
english
Abstract
This article analyzes the discursive construction of mobile, multilingual humanitarian workers at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from a critical sociolinguistic perspective. In the light of fluctuating linguistic requirements and needs, I focus on the trajectories of ICRC delegates as a window onto the different values attributed to language resources and investments before and during humanitarian work. The data analyzed include interviews with three (former) delegates complemented by institutional documents. The ICRC requirement for major languages including English and French goes hand in hand with recent personality profiling in relation to ‘international experience’ (understood as geographical mobility), which is closely connected to cosmopolitan discourses of openness to other cultures and languages. The three delegates mobilize the trope of ‘interest’ in other cultures and languages anchored in their transnational families. Simultaneously, they have expanded their linguistic repertoires during their missions, often ‘bits and pieces’ of local languages, to respond to unplanned linguistic needs in the field and to manage interpreters in ways that reinforce power imbalances. I argue that linguistic investment in non-strategic languages like Kurdish during humanitarian missions seldom translates into economic capital, but it is converted into symbolic capital indexing their professional mobility and flexible, entrepreneurial speakerhood.
Keywords
international organizations, mobile workers, humanitarianism, linguistic investment, sociolinguistic trajectories, multilingualism
Create date
29/06/2019 10:30
Last modification date
17/02/2020 16:20
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