Language ideology, representation, and nationalism: the discursive construction of identity in postcolonial Angola

by Nicolau Nkiawete Manuel

31 Oct 2022
Journal of the British Academy
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Number of pages
28 (pp. 31-58)

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Abstract: This article explores and problematises the role of language in the construction of Angolan national identity. Drawing on cultural studies and insights from linguistic anthropology, it is argued that in the Angolan postcolonial context, the symbolic power of language has been recruited to perpetuate marginalisation, linguistic stratification and social hierarchisation through linguistic ideologies of differentiation. To collect the data the study utilised virtual ethnography, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. The results of this study revealed that the circulating discourses about the nation and identity perpetuate disparate social representations, social hierarchy and marginalisation. The findings also demonstrated how social actors resist dominant discourses and ideologies about the relationship between language and identity in the Angolan postcolonial context. The findings suggest that linguistic heterogeneity creates discursive and ideological tensions that have implications for the construction of a unified national identity.

Keywords: identity, discourse, language ideology, representation, nationalism, Angola.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 6, Language, Culture and Society in Postcolonial Angola.

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