Linguistic Rights and Duties of Migrants: Norms and Practices

September 22, 2019 - September 23, 2019
Department of Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


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  • UCLouvain
  • Södertörn University


Catholic University of Louvain



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What are the linguistic rights and duties of migrants in liberal democracies?  By looking into the empirical practices and normative debates regarding linguistic rights and duties of migrants, we intend for this workshop to shed light on the connection between migration and linguistic justice.

Some historically present minority groups in liberal democracies have been granted linguistic-cultural rights as protection against assimilation. Migrants, on the other hand, are largely excluded from such rights. Instead, they are required to fulfil cultural-linguistic conditions in order to access social, political and economic rights, residency and/or citizenship. The debates of linguistic justice largely circulate around historical or territorial minorities, and leave migrants out of the discussion, while migration scholarship rarely focuses on questions of linguistic justice. This interdisciplinary workshop aims to connect research between migration and linguistic justice through the synthesis of the theoretical, empirical and practical approaches to the topic.

Potential Questions
  • What is just to require from a migrant in terms of language?

  • What enables migrants’ learning of a state’s official language(s)?


  • How should a migrant’s original language be recognized in the host country?

  • What are current and proposed practices of recognition?

Multilingual states

  • Do multilingual states have different considerations than monolingual states in respect to linguistic rights of migrants by virtue of being multilingual?

  • In what ways, if any, should state language policies differ between migrants and non migrants in multilingual states?


  • Does a migrant’s status as temporary resident, or does the length a migrant has been in the country, change their linguistic rights or duties?


  • What challenges do territorially/regionally delimited systems of linguistic governance pose for migrants in multilingual states, e.g. with regards to intra-state mobility?

  • What forms of non-territorial linguistic governance can be developed/imagined in an era of increased mobility and urbanization?

Workshop information

Through these questions, we want to open a transdisciplinary space where empirical and theoretical considerations incorporated across disciplines facilitated by researchers from a diverse set of fields. To that end, this workshop will follow a ‘non-standard’ format in that it will be problem oriented with a focus on improving each other’s work and exposing your work to the perspectives of other disciplines approaches and considerations. Early career scholars are encouraged to apply.

There is no participation fee but participants are to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.

For further information please contact:

Nina Carlsson (Södertörn University) [email protected]
Camille Pascal (UCLouvain) [email protected]
Colin Rowe (KULeuven) [email protected]e

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