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Virginie Mamadouh

Virginie Mamadouh is Associate Professor of Political and Cultural Geography at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her research interests include geopolitical representations, transnational migration and territorial identities, and urban social movements; current projects pertain to the geopolitics of the European Union, urban geopolitics and the paradiplomacy of cities, and geographies of multilingualism. She is one of the editors of The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Political Geography (Agnew et al 2015) and The Handbook on Geographies of Globalization (Kloosterman, Mamadouh & Terhorst 2018) and of the international academic journal Geopolitics.

The sociospatial organization of (linguistic) identification: Beyond territorial identities

The spatial dimensions of linguistic identities are often neglected. And if any attention is paid to them, it is generally from a territorial perspective, centered around territorial linguistic identities through which individuals and linguistic groups relate to the territory in which they dwell. In this context the relation between language, nation, state and territory is often perceived as rather straightforward: the territory of the state, the homeland of the nation and the area dominated by the national language are deemed to be identical and their physical borders are supposed to coincide. This specific geographical imagination of the nexus between state, nation, language and territory is particularly strong in (Central) Europe, where a distinctive language is often seen as the fundamental marker of a separate national identity and the key rationale for the existence of an independent state. Other imaginations however do exist, as shows the celebration of the multilingual character of the Swiss nation or the existence of neighbouring states sharing the same language, not to mention the numerous multinational states and stateless nations. Geographical imaginations and geopolitical representations of linguistic identification can be studied through the lens of critical geopolitics, a now well established branch of political geography that examines the production, circulation and consumption of geopolitical representations of the self and the other, of national identity and of external relations in the three interrelated domains of formal, practical and popular geopolitics (academia, foreign policy and diplomacy, media and popular culture, respectively).
The talk aims at revisiting the main sociospatial dimensions of linguistic identification by drawing from recent debates in human geography regarding the sociospatial structuration of society. These debates pertained to the reconceptualization of territory, but also to that of other geographical key concepts such as place, scale and network.

Recently Jessop and his co-authors (2008, 2016, 2018) have criticized these debates and invited geographers to refrain from focusing on one sociospatial form at the expense of the others. To this effect they propose their so-called TPNS scheme, in which territory (T), place (P), scale (S) and network (N) are viewed in conjunction and are each considered both as a principle of sociospatial structuring and as a resulting pattern of sosciospatial relations. Their scheme was developed to analysis the political economy of state rescaling, but will be used here to revisit linguistic identification processes. The territorial structuring principle pertains to process of ordering, bordering and othering. Place pertains to place making, place naming, linguistic landscape and soundscape, while scale points at the envisioned configuration of linguistic identifications and affiliations at different scale levels (including diglossia and languages of wider communication).
Finally network is useful to investigate relations across space, for example between diasporas and their homeland, but also within online linguistic communities and when it comes to augmented reality. To illustrate the potential of the approach, the talk will present a geographical reading of Double nationalité [Dual nationality] a novel by the French-Hungarian interpreter and translator Nina Yargekov (2016).