Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, co-editor with Enrique Uribe-Jongbloed of Social Media and Minority Languages, the first collection of academic essays on this topic tells us a little about how the book came about…
This collection of essays brings together writings by over thirty scholars working in the field of minority language media studies. Some are well established researchers having contributed to the development of this specific area of study over several decades, while others are new entrants, either as newcomers to academia itself or as researchers who are now embracing social media as an integral part of their work in other disciplines. Minority Language Media Studies is itself an interdisciplinary meeting place – as the many conferences and seminars held over the years have shown – drawing on the discourses of sociolinguistics and media studies. Yet, new approaches to linguistic diversity, the pervasiveness of social media, as well as the impact of convergence in the creative industries require a rethinking of research questions, methodologies and theoretical frameworks as we aim to enhance our knowledge and understanding of these phenomena.
Most of the contributors to this book met up at the Mercator Network conference on Linguistic Diversity and Media Convergence held at Aberystwyth University in Wales with the support of the European Commission. Since 1988, with the support of the European Union, the Mercator Network has brought together academic researchers, practitioners, activists and policy makers in the fields of education, legislation and media in the context of minority languages communities. The Mercator Network is currently working on a three year programme of expert workshops and conferences (LEARNMe), funded by the European Union and Mercator’s host institutions: the Fryske Akademy (NL), Aberystwyth University (Wales), CIEMEN-Barcelona, the University of Stockholm and the Research Institute for Linguistics at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Working in an international context is an indispensable part of minority language studies: the condition of being a minority – or minoritised – language community, can mean that the very issues that are significant to the community are often marginalised from and peripheral to the mainstream public discourses within the state. This also includes academic discourses and collaborative work with colleagues in different countries is necessary, in order to create innovative research frameworks and rigorously debate findings in comparative contexts.
Since its creation in 1988, the Mercator Network’s philosophy has been based on the following principles:
- an engagé approach: aiming to improve the conditions of minority languages through research based on critical distance and rejecting attempts at a false neutrality of observationalism;
- a bridging approach: create a dialogue between the scholarly study of minority languages and practitioners, professionals, policy makers, advocates and activists;
- a grounded approach: located in the geo-political areas where minority languages are a lived experience and to use the languages as widely as possible;
- a multi-disciplinary approach: recognising a wide base of knowledge and varied methodologies;
- a comparative approach; to produce research paradigms that can usefully link theory and practice across a range of different social realities;
- a networked approach: to create and develop sustainable networks of organizations and institutions active in this field and to enhance contact between people by hosting and supporting events and fora that facilitate discussion and the exchange of knowledge and ideas in order to create new discourses that engage with minority languages beyond the confines of state borders.
We hope that this book will contribute to dialogue in this field and we would like to thank all involved in its publication.