University of London Institute in Paris

9-11 rue de Constantine
75007 Paris

Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow, UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts

In the debates in the global north relating to multilingual subjectivity (Kramsch 2014) and translanguaging (Creese and Blackledge 2017), the way migration has produced new repertories of speech and action are well evidenced. Monolingualism has been shown to be a powerful construction (Gramling 2016), the multilingual turn has been taken (May 2014), the translation turn is well underway and languages, for all that borders are closing under fear of mass migration (Kelly 2017), are reportedly experiencing a resurgence in popularity in the UK. In Scotland, in the last ten years legislation has been passed making the country one which is now officially multilingual. Within this work, however, there is a focus on the languages which have dominated the colonial past and the neo-colonial present. The binary divide between world or global languages and other or minority or community languages persists in the discourse, theory and methodologies of language pedagogy and choice.

Drawing on the work of a recently published short book and manifesto for decolonising multilingualism this lecture will consider what might be at stake in contexts where people are seeking refuge, if integration is to mean mutual transformation at the level of language, and if integration is understood to be an artistic practice.

This talk will develop work from AHRC Researching Multilingually at Borders project and the new MiDEQ South-South Migration Hub, examining multilingual encounters through the work of Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1986). Breaking with traditional forms, as part of the decolonising process, this lecture offers a series of narrative vignettes, experiences, poetic content and extracts from a manifesto for decolonising multilingualism.


Alison Phipps

Alison Phipps UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow and Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies. She is Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNET). She is De Carle Distinguished Lecturer at University of Otago, and was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Waikato University, Aotearoa New Zealand 2013-2016, Thinker in Residence at the EU Hawke Centre, University of South Australia in 2016, Visiting Professor at Auckland University of Technology and is Principal Investigator for the £2 million AHRC Large Grant ‘Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the body, law and the state.’ In 2011 she was voted ‘Best College Teacher’ by the student body, and received the Universities ‘Teaching Excellence Award’ for a Career Distinguished by Excellence. In 2012 she received an OBE for Services to Education and Intercultural and Interreligious Relations in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In 2019 she was awarded the Minerva Medal by the Royal Society of Philosophy. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of Arts, and the Academy of Social Sciences.

She has undertaken academic and artistic work in, amongst others, Palestine, Sudan, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Germany, France, USA, Portugal, Ghana. She has produced and directed theatre and worked as dramaturg and creative liturgist with the World Council of Churches from 2008-2011 during the Decade to Overcome Violence. Most recently she co-directed Broken World, Broken Word, a Noyam African Dance Institute, Dodowa, Ghana with Tawona Sitholé & Gameli Tordzro.

She regularly advises public, governmental and third sector bodies on migration, arts and languages policy and participated recently in a witness-bearing visit to Calais for Scottish Members of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

She is an author of numerous books and articles, a published poet and a regular international keynote speaker and broadcaster and Member of the Iona Community.