Special Issue - Family Multilingualism: Decolonial and Southern Approaches


Guest Editors:

Rafael Lomeu Gomes, Multiling, University of Oslo, Norway

Elizabeth Lanza, Multiling, University of Oslo, Norway

One important dimension of ongoing debates in socio- and applied linguistics concerns the decentering of hegemonic, canonical epistemologies in favour of ‘knowledges otherwise’ (cf. Makoni et al forthcoming). Such decentering has been characterised by, inter alia, engagement with southern epistemologies and theories of decoloniality in attempts to challenge hierarchical knowledge systems; examine and interrogate conceptual and methodological reminiscences of colonial reasoning in language studies; and amplify voices centred around social and epistemic justice (see Deumert et al 2021, Heugh et al 2021). In turn, recent family multilingualism research has opened up to greater diversification of family formations and to critical approaches to studying them (Lanza and Lomeu Gomes 2020, Wright and Higgins 2021). This special issue furthers these conversations by serving as a platform to promote discussions around the ways in which decolonial and southern approaches can shift extant hierarchies of knowledge systems in family multilingualism research. Particularly, the articles in this special issue draw on southern epistemologies, southern theory, and theories of decoloniality to contribute with original research on topics such as: (i) the role of language in southern experiences of family-making; (ii) the extent to which family formations are shaped by and/or challenge hierarchically organised social categorisations such as social class, race/ethnicity, and gender/sexuality; (iii) localised understandings of language, communication, and meaning-making in mundane interactions in the home; (iv) circulating discourses in media (re)presentations of families with minoritised backgrounds; and (v) the nexus between everyday language practices and (institutional) policies in processes of language reclamation and language socialisation as experienced, for example, by Indigenous peoples (cf. Lomeu Gomes and Lanza, in press).

This proposed special issue will be the first of its kind to highlight how the study of family multilingualism can be enhanced by drawing on decolonial and southern approaches to language in the family, going beyond the study of diverse family constellations.

Keywords: family multilingualism; language socialization; Family Language Policy; southern epistemologies; decoloniality


Deumert, A., A. Storch, and N. Shepherd, (eds.) (2021). Colonial and Decolonial Linguistics: Knowledges and Epistemes. Oxford University Press, USA.

Heugh, K., C. Stroud, K. Taylor-Leech, and P. I. De Costa, (eds.) (2021). A Sociolinguistics of the South. Routledge.

Makoni, S., M. Madany-Saá, B. Antia, and R. Lomeu Gomes. (2022). Decolonial Voices, Language and Race. Multilingual Matters.

Lanza, E., and R. Lomeu Gomes. (2020). “Family Language Policy: Foundations, Theoretical Perspectives and Critical Approaches.” In Andrea C. Schalley & Susana A. Eisenchlas (ed.), Handbook of Home Language Maintenance and Development. Social and Affective Factors. De Gruyter Mouton. 153 – 173.

Lomeu Gomes. R. and E. Lanza. In press. Southern Approaches to Family Multilingualism. In The Routledge Handbook of Language and the Global South edited by Sinfree Makoni, Anna Kaiper-Marquez, and Lorato Mokwena. Routledge

Wright, L. and C. Higgins. (2021). Diversifying Family Language Policy. London: Bloomsbury.