Professor Rosemary Salomone will speak on Monday, July 21st at the International Political Science Association 23rd World Congress in Montreal. The topic of her paper is “Making New Citizens: Transatlantic Perspectives on Language, Belonging and Immigrant Schooling.” The following is a summary:
Policies on language and schooling in the United States and Western Europe reveal a decided concern for preserving social cohesion in the face of mounting immigration and cultural and religious diversity. This paper examines how that concern finds expression in contrasting discourses on linguistic pluralism and multiculturalism, how the apparent disconnect between the political rhetoric and reality affects the lives of immigrant students, how the distinct ways in which Europeans and Americans talk about language and immigration influence public attitudes and define the range of language policy options, and how the debate over the role of language in the schools, in one way or another, seems to ignore the impact of globalization and transnationalism and the connection among language, belonging, and citizenship. The discussion begins with the United States where the argument for maintaining immigrant languages, predominantly Spanish, in the schools holds diminishing support despite an unofficial “multiculturalism lite” as a heralded aspect of American identity. By way of contrast, it examines the challenges faced by Western European nations under competing pressures of global English for productivity and supranational directives on multilingualism for European integration and job mobility, while at the same time officially rejecting a presumably “thicker” form of multiculturalism as a politically destabilizing force.