Decolonizing family language policy, or reimagining family multilingualism as an inclusive field


  • Isabelle Léglise National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)



decolonial approaches, family language policy, family multilingualism, multilingualism, southern perspective


As a commentary to a special issue dedicated to multilingualism within the family from southern and decolonial approaches, this article examines what it could mean to ‘decolonize the field of family language policy’ – or, rather, to reimagine this field in terms of the more all-encompassing label of family multilingualism. It draws on my own experience of the difficulty of fitting into a field configured in English, from my position as a French researcher working in the contexts of the so-called Global South and supervising students who come from backgrounds minoritized in France and who are personally involved in the subjects on which they work. This commentary has thus been written from relative marginality in this field and out of an experience of both familiarity and foreignness. By proposing four lateral moves, it adds to studies calling for viewpoints to be situated, for voices from the south to be included and for knowledge itself to be decolonized. These lateral moves form part of an attempt to decolonize this academic field if we are to take seriously the need to clean house within the academy itself so that knowledges rooted in western/northern experiences and traditions are simply part of the palette of knowledges.

Author Biography

  • Isabelle Léglise, National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)

    Isabelle Léglise is Directrice de Recherche at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS, Paris). She is head of the Federation of Research Centers on Social Sciences in the Global South and co-head of the CNRS-IRD-INALCO SeDyL Center. For the last 20 years, her scientific collaborations in French Guiana, Suriname and Brazil, and more recently Cambodia, have focused on language policy related to education, health and migration, and on multilingual practices in postcolonial settings.


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How to Cite

Léglise, I. (2024). Decolonizing family language policy, or reimagining family multilingualism as an inclusive field. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 4(2), 288-304.