The language of migration

Sitholé, T., Crawley, H., Feyissa, D., Tapsoba, T. A., Meda, M. M., Sangli, G., Yeoh, S. G. and Phipps, A. (2022) The language of migration. Zanj: The Journal of Critical Global South Studies, 5(1/2), pp. 14-26. (doi: 10.13169/zanjglobsoutstud.5.1.0002)

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Words are a dangerous game. They don’t just describe a reality; they also create it. At the same time, words are one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to change dominant, dehumanising, migratory narratives. This piece was inspired by a conversation between MIDEQ colleagues in the early stages of thinking and writing for this volume. During the conversation it became clear that whilst we appeared to be talking about the same thing, in reality, we weren’t. For each of us, the language of migration reflects our own experiences and engagement with the concept of “migration.” It reflects our understanding of what it means to “migrate” and who is viewed, understood, or represented as “a migrant.” These understandings, individual and collective, are shaped by our personal experiences and those of our family and friends, our engagement with the “scholarly literature” on migration from a range of disciplinary perspectives, our work and play as writers, artists, linguists, advocates and campaigners, doers and thinkers. These understandings are formed at the intersection of our complex and interwoven identities. Our conversation revealed the many ways in which the core ideas of “migration” and “migrants” are conceptualised in the various languages spoken, known or used by those working in or otherwise associated with, the MIDEQ Hub. Several contributors mentioned that in the contexts where they live and work, the word “migration” has a very different meaning – or no meaning at all. And that even within countries, different groups use the term “migrant” or “traveller” or “foreigner” to mean many different things, both positive and negative. The significance of this and the potential implications for the work are both exciting and challenging. When we write for a particular journal or audience, we often default to the dominant ways of representing migration linguistically without stopping to consider whether these meanings are the same for others. This piece is the product of that original conversation and our subsequent engagements, woven together in ways that we hope provide a meaningful starting point for better understanding of the multiple meanings and significances of “migration,” as used in this volume.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Phipps, Professor Alison and Sithole, Mr Tawona
Authors: Sitholé, T., Crawley, H., Feyissa, D., Tapsoba, T. A., Meda, M. M., Sangli, G., Yeoh, S. G., and Phipps, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Culture, Literacies, Inclusion & Pedagogy
Journal Name:Zanj: The Journal of Critical Global South Studies
Publisher:Pluto Journals
ISSN (Online):2515-2149
Published Online:13 June 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Zanj: The Journal of Critical Global South Studies 5(1/2): 14-26
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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