A Glottopolitics of the Galician Diaspora in London: Performing Indigeneity as Heritage and Negotiating Ethnolinguistic Claims for Recognition

Author: Alejandro Dayan-Fernandez (University of Glasgow, Scotland)
Speaker: Alejandro Dayan-Fernandez
Topic: Critical Linguistic Anthropology
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL COMELA 2021 General Session


Within the UK, studies on ‘heritage’ or ‘community’ languages have paid no attention to European minoritized languages and identities that cohabit with their hegemonic ‘nation-state’ counterparts in London’s diasporic spaces. Neither have ethnolinguistic struggles present within the borders of contemporary Europe and the articulation of these dynamics’ reordering in diaspora been explored through a postcolonial prism (Grosfoguel 2018: viii) in the Galician context. This paper will look at the glottopolitics (Guespin and Marcellesi 1986) that dictate how London’s Galician activist landscape is carved out by examining authenticity and anonymity ideologies (Woolard 2016) amongst the activist members vis-à -vis how these ideologies are played out intergenerationally and shape up ideas of ‘Galicianness’.

I will draw on a multi-sited critical sociolinguistics ethnography that started in September 2017. I will focus on how linguistic trajectories of diaspora members influence their perceptions of what being a Galician or Spanish speaker entails and will address the intergenerational frictions around ethnolinguistic identities which either perpetuate or counteract the repositioning of Spanish hegemony and Galician subalternity in London.

I will argue: (1) that diasporic linguistic ideologies allow us to determine whether socio-political and ethnolinguistic power struggles from the country of origin are replicated (or not), and if so, how and why; and (2) that diasporic intergenerational tensions between Galicians are fundamentally based on their differing understandings of contemporary Galician ethnolinguistic identity reclamation.


Grosfoguel, R. (2018). ‘Foreword’, in DePalma, R. and Pérez-Caramés, A. (eds.). Galician Migrations: A Case Study of Emerging Super-diversity, Springer, pp. v-viii.

Guespin, L. & Marcellesi, JB (1986). “Pour la glottopolitique.” Langages 83, pp. 5–34. Woolard, K. (2016). Singular and plural: Ideologies of linguistic authority in 21st century Catalonia. New York: Oxford University Press.

Keywords: Glottopolitics; Galician diaspora; Ethnolinguistic Identity; Heritage Languages; Politics of Language; Language Ideologies; Critical Sociolinguistics Ethnography.