Workshop Sociolinguistics of Belonging

The Meertens Instituut (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) and chair Languageculture in Limburg at Maastricht University is organizing the 3rd Sociolinguistics workshop on Belonging.

The Meertens/UM Languagecultural team is a continuation and broadening of the PhDs’ networks, and it scopes wider than just linguistic variation, it also includes language practices, and language ideologies and we are very much interested in and inspired by other disciplinary perspectives – such as anthropology and sociology (see also: We especially like to generate and exchange ideas among presenters and audience.

Date:               11 February 2019

Location:         Meertens Instituut

Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185, 1012 DK Amsterdam

Room:             2.18


10.00 coffee and tea

10.20 Welcome by Antal van den Bosch, director

10.25 Welcome by Leonie Cornips

10. 30 Jan Willem Duyvendak, NIAS

11.15 Daan Hovens, Maastricht University

11.45 Pomme van de Weerd, Maastricht University

12.15 Lunch

13.00 Leonie Cornips & Vincent de Rooij, Meertens/Maastricht University & UvA

13.30 Bianca Dijkstra, Groningen University

14.00 Coffee break

14.15 Jolien Makkinga, Meertens Instituut & Maastricht University

14.45 Birgit Meyer, Utrecht University

16.00 Coffee break

16.15 Rounding up

Titles and abstracts (alphabetical order)

Leonie Cornips & Vincent de Rooij

Material belonging in a Carnival association: Places, language, and objects

In this talk, we want to explore how members of a carnival association in Limburg, the Netherlands, celebrate belonging through cultivating attachments to places, languages and objects. We will present a case study of carnival society ‘de Blauw Sjuut’ (the Blue Vessel) in Heerlen (Cornips & de Rooij 2015). Our talk will emphasize the importance of material dimensions of belonging and will show how members of the carnival association narratively create material belonging through indexical associations between the extended Self and places-dialects-objects.


Cornips, Leonie & Vincent de Rooij 2015. Belonging through LanguageculturalPractices in the Periphery. The Politics of Carnival in the Dutch Province of Limburg. Anthropological Journal of European Cultures 24:1, 83-101.

Bianca Dijkstra, University of Groningen

Multilingual Communication Practices in European International Trucking

Keywords: Multilingualism, Workplace communication, Truck drivers, Supply Chain, Ethnography

In Europe, international truck drivers surmount diverse (linguistic) landscapes to keep the supply chain intact. In the multilingual contact zones they encounter along their way they need to be versatile and make the most out of their linguistic resources or ‘Individual Multilingual Repertoire’ (IMR) (Pitzl, 2016, p. 298). In this presentation I will specifically look at a case from my ethnographic fieldwork which illustrates how Polish truck drivers use various communicative modes to get their job done. Furthermore, I will sketch out the path ahead to thoroughly address the question of how multilingual interlocutors manage everyday communication in a supply chain environment. The experiences of Polish international truck drivers present a suitable case study insofar as they exemplify the increasing internationalization of Europe, multilingual contact cases, and unique challenges facing different industries within supply chains.


Pitzl, M.-L. (2018). Creativity in English as a Lingua Franca: Idiom and Metaphor. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.

Jan Willem Duyvendak, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS)

Nativism and belonging in the Netherlands in comparative perspective.

The right-wing discourses surrounding identity in Europe’s present-day politics and public spheres are often academically analysed in terms of populism, Islamophobia and racism. While acknowledging those concepts’ validity, this study proposes that populism, Islamophobia and racism are actually all subtypes of nativism and can only be understood in terms of who belongs (the natives) and who don’t belong (the non-natives). As its empirical evidence, the study analyses right-wing discourses in the Netherlands that have swirled over the last decade. They are a radical case of a much broader trend in Europe. Relative to other European nativisms, the Dutch variant has been propagated by a wider range of political affiliations, all supporting the idea that belonging in the Netherlands is based on progressive views on gender and sexuality, notably homosexuality. My presentation will open with a conceptual description of nativism in relation to belonging. This is followed by analyses of discourses through the lenses of religious nativism, problematizing the belonging of Islam and Muslims; populist nativism, problematizing the belonging of ‘native’ elites; and racial nativism problematizing the belonging of black anti-racists.

Daan Hovens, Maastricht University

Language Use and the Development of Working Practices during First Encounters in a Contemporary Industrial Production Environment

Key words: Communities of practice, transience, workplace socialisation, Taylorism, multilingualism

Processes of labour market flexibilisation and European labour market integration have given rise to blue-collar workplaces that are characterised by both transience and multilingualism. This paper builds upon ethnographic fieldwork in one such workplace, namely a production department of a metal foundry in the Dutch-German border area. The main question is what role transience and language use play in workplace socialisation processes that can be identified here. Since industrial production work is typically characterised by Taylorism or routinisation, the perspective of workplace socialisation in transient multilingual configurations offers a unique insight in how routines are constructed in daily practice. Apart from human actants, it turns out that nonhuman actants can play an important role in the process of routine-development as well. The paper concludes with an assessment of the tension that arises between processes of routinisation and flexibilisation in the workplace, and how communicative modes can be used strategically by various actants in this constellation.

Jolien Makkinga,  Meertens Instituut & Maastricht University

Internalized Ageism in a Nursing Home In aging discourses, older people are often approached as a homogenous group. The same holds for perspectives on where and how people should age. Its suggested that one way of where and how to grow older is the best way for all older people.

In the Netherlands, there is a strong emphasis and expectation for older people to age in place (Ranada & Hagberg 2014, Rijksoverheid). In the discourse on where and how people should age, aging in place is related to independency, agency and postponing decline (Vasara 2015). In contrast, aging in a nursing home is perceived as a deviation from the norm as both the nursing home and its residents are associated with dependence, non-agentic behaviour and decline. Whereas aging in place is (more) related to successful aging, residents of a nursing home are often perceived as unsuccessfully aged.

While aging residents of a nursing home are often perceived as a homogenous group, the first results of my ongoing research show that residents actively differentiate themselves from other residents through their language practices. This paper explores how the process of the politics of belonging takes places among residents. Moreover, it discusses how in the process of politics of belonging residents give meaning to and (re)negotiate discourses on nursing homes and successful aging. It shows how residents perform internalized ageism and make a strong distinction between physical and cognitive decline.

The data for this paper have been collected in a nursing home in Maastricht through ethnographic fieldwork complimented with methods such as participant observation, informal interviews and audio recording.

Birgit Meyer, Utrecht University

Aesthetic Formations in Plural Environments

Key words: sensation, embodiment, plurality

In this presentation I will 1) briefly introduce the notion “aesthetic formation” as I initially developed it as an attempt to include sensation and embodiment as key dimensions of belonging, 2) re-think the notion in the context of (religious) plurality and co-existence, and 3) indicate its potential for the study of clashes and conflicts over religious and other matters. The lecture is mainly conceptual, its aim being to contribute to the study of binding and politics of belonging in plural settings.

Pomme van de Weerd, Maastricht University

Labels and constructions of (un)belonging among Dutch secondary school pupils 

There is much talk about Turken ‘Turks,’ Marokkanen ‘Moroccans’ and Nederlanders ‘Dutch people’ in the media, political and popular discourse, and also in some academic scholarship. But what do these labels mean, and to whom do they mean this? In this presentation, I look at labels through the lens of membership categorization analysis, and compare the use of labels in the aforementioned domains to the ways in which pupils of the vocational track of a secondary school in Venlo, the Netherlands, used them. Based on nine months of ethnographic fieldwork with these pupils, I will argue that they had very different conceptualizations of what it meant to ‘be a Turk/Marokkaan/Nederlander’, and that it is vital to examine those differences.