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Language and humanitarian governmentality in a refugee camp on Lesvos island

Yilmaz, B; (2021) Language and humanitarian governmentality in a refugee camp on Lesvos island. In: De Fina, A and Mazzafero, G, (eds.) Exploring (Im)mobilities: Language practices, discourses, imaginaries and narratives. Multilingual Matters: Bristol, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Separated from Turkey by a ten kilometre channel, Lesvos island has received 45% of the refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015. An agreement called the EU-Turkey deal signed in March 2016 has led to the containment of refugees in hot spots, camps and shelters. Through this deal, the so called Balkan route has been closed and refugees including children and young people have been immobilised in refugee camps. Drawing on a nine month ethnography on Lesvos island, this chapter investigates the processes of language teaching and children’s rejection of learning the Greek language within a refugee camp called Eastside camp, hosting “vulnerable families”, operating with the logics of humanitarianism namely the deployment conflicting moral sentiments such as compassion to govern the refugees. To do this, I question the ambivalent techniques such as “compassion”, feelings for the suffering and misfortunes of others in “conducting” the refugees and Foucault’s (2007) notion of “counter- conduct”that emerges from the specific conducts of humanitarian governmentality. I deal with this, by asking what role language teaching and learning play in humanitarian governmentality and the ways in which entanglements are manifested in this type of governmentality. In order to analyse the specificities of this kind of governmentality, I move away from the power/resistance dichotomy, that is dealt with in the sociolinguistic literature in great deal and instead focus on how subjects “struggle” diagonally -namely ways in which individuals move away from direct confrontations to create new forms of conducting themselves, which become evident in the struggle of language teaching and learning. By focusing on the entanglements occurring in language education, I demonstrate the contradictions of this type of governmentaliy (Tazzioli 2020) that is underpinned by immobility, political economy, biopolitcs and security and which, in return, denies refugees’ legally enshrined right to education. The data involve my ethnographic fieldwork comprising fieldnotes, interviews, a report written by the Ministry of Education in Greece, documents from nongovernmental organisations’ websites and visual material involving photos of texts and images found in the research settings.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Language and humanitarian governmentality in a refugee camp on Lesvos island
ISBN-13: 9781788925280
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.multilingual-matters.com/page/detail/E...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: language, humanitarian governmentality, refugee camp, refugee children
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122132
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