Privileged Outsiders? A sociolinguistic investigation of foreign communities in Taipei

Key information

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Brunei Gallery

About this event

Gareth Price
*Please be aware that this session follows British Summer Time (BST).


In the broader scheme of international migration, migrants from the global north – conventionally, though problematically, known as “expatriates” or “expats” – are inherently privileged by virtue of citizenship, transnational class position, and sometimes – but not always – race. This privilege, mobilized as various “forms of capital” (Bourdieu 1986), translates into specific advantages in these migrants’ rationales and capacities for migrating and their navigation of national visa and border regimes. Nonetheless, they are subject to material challenges and biopolitical controls that make for sometimes precarious existences and identities in their host countries. While a burgeoning literature exists on these issues in sociology, anthropology, and geography, the sociolinguistic and linguistic anthropological implications have not yet been fully explored.

Drawing on a larger project investigating northern migrants in Taiwan and Thailand, this talk presents ethnographically-informed social media and interview data to investigate several research questions. How do northern migrants (co-)construct their migration trajectories and experiences narratively, discursively, and semiotically in online and offline spaces? How and why do they learn the languages of their host societies? How do they negotiate and talk about precarity and privilege in the context of lived meanings? How do they articulate the distinctions between “migrant” and “expat”, or emplace themselves between different, and sometimes conflicting, transnational conceptions of “home”? Where and how do we situate voices from the global south who self-identify as “expats” but live relatively more precarious lives compared to northern migrants? I explore these questions from a sociolinguistic and linguistic anthropological perspective as a research work-in-progress.

Speaker's Bio

Gareth Price received his PhD from the University of Essex in 2009. At Duke University, he teaches in the Linguistics Program, and he is also a faculty member of the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute. He has published research on language politics in Taiwan in the journals Language in Society and Language Policy, and is the author of the book Language, Society, and the State: From Colonization to Globalization in Taiwan (de Gruyter 2019; paperback 2021).

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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