Past events

When Multilingualism is Your Mother Tongue
Tuesday 20 February 2018, 06:00pm - 08:30pm
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When multilingualism is your mother tongue: the documentary Kanraxël and associated teaching resources

Tuesday 20 February
6:00PM – 8:30PM
at the Royal Anthropological Institute

On the eve of world mother tongue day, we would like to take you on a journey to Agnack, at tiny village in the south of the West African country of Senegal. Places like Agnack defy the widespread Western conception of multilingualism as a modern phenomenon widespread in urban areas and associated with growing mobility and migration in an era of recent globalisation. Multilingualism in Agnack, as in many rural areas worldwide, is age-old, as is globalisation, which started there in the 15th century. Places like Agnack also invite us to see multilingualism as a resource, not as a problem, and to reflect on our own repertoires. This event introduces small-scale or rural multilingualism Agnack through a screening of the ethnographic documentary film Kanraxël that inspired the creation of a set of teaching materials for schools and universities drawing attention to this underresearched and underreported type of multilingualism. Kanraxël, an award-winning film directed by Remigiusz Sowa and produced by Anna Sowa of Chouette Films, offers viewers from everywhere the rare opportunity to become directly immersed in versatile multilingual practices in a tiny village in Senegal that invite us to shed these stereotypical expectations on what multilingualism is and what it means to speak several languages. The linguistic practices portrayed in the film remain at the margin of mainstream perception. Yet, they have important stories to tell us, and can illustrate many global settings where this form of multilingualism exists till today, and which can serve as models for managing the new superdiverse urban settings in the West. We hope that the teaching materials, which we launch during this event, will contribute to making these sites of diversity and resilience accessible and visible worldwide, and that they will result in changing the ways in which multilingualism is covered in school and university curricula.

6pm Opening and short introduction to the film and the teaching resources and the team around film and resources: Friederike Lüpke
6.30 Prof. Devyani Sharma (Queen Mary's, Multilingual Capital)
6.40 Short presentation by users of the teaching resources (school teachers, SOAS ambassadors -tbc)
6.50-7.40 Screening of the film
7.40-8 Q&A
8-8.30 Drinks reception

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom