Chronotopicity: The Inseparability of Time and Space

This month we are publishing Chronotopic Identity Work: Sociolinguistic Analyses of Cultural and Linguistic Phenomena in Time and Space edited by Sjaak Kroon and Jos Swanenberg. In this post the editors discuss how their book explores the concept of chronotopicity.

How often have you encountered a colleague, for instance at an international sociolinguistics conference, who started talking to you about Bakhtin? And how often did you subsequently engage in a somewhat vague and not very satisfying discussion about some of Bakhtin’s central concepts like heteroglossia or chronotopicity?

Over the last few years, chronotopicity has received renewed attention, not only in the field of literary studies where Bakhtin coined it, but also in other scientific fields. The inseparability of time and space also applies to, for example, social interaction and recently several scholars have shed new light on the possible contributions of the concept of chronotopicity to theorizing in sociolinguistics. This almost automatically led to questions on whether and how the concept could be used in empirical, mainly ethnographically-oriented sociolinguistic research.

In our edited volume Chronotopic Identity Work, we attempt to bring together a variety of empirical studies that put some flesh on the bones of the rather abstract chronotopic theorizing as presented thus far in the field of sociolinguistics. By doing so, we aim to show how Bakhtin’s concept of chronotopicity can be used for unraveling the intricate relationships between language, culture and identity in an era of globalization, digitalization and superdiversity.

Our cooperation with colleagues who agreed to face the challenge of using chronotopicity as a central concept in their research has taken us to:

  • young adults in Mongolia interacting on Facebook through mixed and inverted language practices;
  • fame-seeking identity plays by so-called baifumei (white, rich, beautiful, young women), within the Chinese ‘attention economy’;
  • changes in picturing bureaucratic personhood through descriptions with deictics in local newspapers in Indonesia;
  • touristic entertainment in a former traditional rural neighborhood in China;
  • the commodification of cultural heritage and identity work in an ethnic minority community in Enshi, China;
  • navigations of teachers and students between different language regimes in a multicultural school in Denmark;
  • normative behavior and attitudes regarding different language resources in and around school situations in the Netherlands;
  • the construction and meaning of Polish identity in an immigrant community in a superdiverse neighborhood in Belgium.

We think this collection of sociolinguistic analyses through the lens of chronotopicity clearly illustrates how the concept can be used in empirical research and how it contributes to the understanding of identity work in relation to the context of time and space.

Sjaak Kroon and Jos Swanenberg

Department of Culture Studies & Babylon, Center for the Study of Superdiversity, Tilburg University (The Netherlands)

a.p.c.swanenberg@uvt.nl

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Multilingualism, (Im)mobilities and Spaces of Belonging edited by Kristine Horner and Jennifer Dailey-O’Cain.