Multilingual Networks: Diversity and dynamism in the Uplands of Mainland Southeast Asia
rincipal Invetigator: BADENOCH, Nathan
The objective of this research is to demonstrate the value of multilingualism for the resilience of society in a rapidly changing world where economic efficiency is given priority to the human and natural diversity. This research will draw upon evidence from mainland Southeast Asia where multilingual people strategically use language to negotiate their interactions with the regional economy. The uplands of northern Laos will provide the main field area for the research. Research activities will document and analyze the strategic language-based networks formed by local people as they seek to secure their livelihoods, demonstrating how language is a key factor in determining how these networks are created, maintained and adapted. In challenging the common understanding that linguistic diversity is a barrier to socio-economic development, the research will make concrete proposals for how social resilience can be strengthened through institutions of governance that recognize and support human diversity as a source of flexibility, adaptability and dynamism under the rapid and risky forces of regionalization.