Lecture1: Negotiation of identities and multilingual literacies

Adrian Blackledge

This paper explores multilingual literacies within a framework which differentiates between three types of identities: imposed identities (which are not negotiable in a particular time and place), assumed identities (which are accepted and not negotiated), and negotiable identities (which are contested by groups and individuals). Options that are acceptable for and, therefore, not negotiated by some groups and individuals, may be contested by another group, or even the same group at a different point in time. In this view then, imposed (or non-negotiable) identities are the ones that individuals cannot resist or contest at a particular point in time. In turn, asssumed (or non-negotiated) identities are those that many individuals are comfortable with and not interested in contesting. Often, these identities are the ones most valued and legitimised by the dominant discourses of identity (e.g., heterosexual white middle class males or monolingual speakers of the majority language). Finally, negotiable identities refer to all identity options which can be – and are – contested and resisted by particular individuals and groups. These identities may be negotiated (or found to be non-negotiable) through literacy events and practices in a variety of sites which include the family, peer group, formal and informal educational contexts, and the workplace.