Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Barbara Siller
Unsettling Communities: Minor, Minority and Small Literatures in Europe
‘Bilingual / Multilingual Writing as an Act of Political Resistance and a Commitment to Multilingualism: At the Border between Italy and Austria
Conference at the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR), Senate House, University of London
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
While it is possible that authors might choose to write in two or more languages out of their personal and artistic interests, more often the reasons for multilingual writing lie deeper. In the case of German-speaking authors at the border of Northern Italy, namely in South Tyrol, bilingual writing started in the late 1960ies as a form of cultural and political resistance. Following the end of WWI, South Tyrol, formerly part of the Habsburg Empire, became part of Italy. This meant not only a political change, but above all, a linguistic change. The ongoing undermining of the German community’s linguistic rights by the Italian State had its consequences: In order to ‘protect their cultural identity’ and to ‘survive as a linguistic community’ the German community’s reaction was to cut themselves off from the Italian community, culturally and linguistically. Finally, the region with the support of the Austrian Government succeeded in obtaining its autonomy along with its linguistic rights. However, the cultural and linguistic separation continued to live on, as it was deeply entrenched in various domains of society. This has been faced with incessant criticism by several German-speaking authors as well as politicians. However, whereas authors initially embarked on bilingual writing to make a distinct political statement for border-crossing and against linguistic segregation, the later multilingual writing became a general act of raising awareness for language issues in general and a gesture for commitment to multilingualism in our globalized world.