FiDiPro professor Jan Blommaert


 Professor Jan Blommaert

Jan Blommaert is Finland Distinguished Professor in Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Jyväskylä, Department of Languages. In this capacity he is a key figure in the project on Multilingualism as a Problematic Resource, funded in 2007-2010 in the Finland Distinguished Professor, FiDiPro, Programme by the Academy of Finland.

His disciplinary backgrounds are at ease in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, discourse analysis, with a predilection for ethnographic approaches to all of these. He has a background in African Studies, majoring in history, and historical issues in social theory have always been a focus of attention to him.

A lot of his current work focuses on language in globalization, and more specifically the way globalization has an impact on

  1. language hierarchies as well as on
  2. patterns of distribution of crucial linguistic resources such as ‘standard’ varieties and literacy, and
  3. the way all of this creates new forms of difference-as-inequality, for instance when people, language forms or texts start ‘moving’ across the globe.

He has devoted quite a bit of work on grassroots literacy in Africa as a relatively autonomous economy of literacy and he explores the relationship between language and space in an attempt to refine theoretical models of interaction, semiotics and meaning. He devotes also a lot of time on research in domains and sites where macro-level processes can be observed microscopically: ethnographic sites of encounters between people bearing the marks of very different positions in the world. Sites of work include asylum applications in Belgium, Dutch immersion classes for immigrants in Belgium and English classes in townships in South Africa.

Apart from these active interests, he is interested in general issues of literacy, language standardization and policy, standard-vernacular dynamics, code-switching and other forms of ‘impurities’ in language, popular culture and the way it permeates the sociolinguistic and cultural landscape. Jan Blommaert has published widely both nationally and internationally.