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date: 22 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Many historical and contemporary conflicts in the world today, while often ostensibly framed in ethnic terms, actually involve language—and by extension, language policy—as a key catalyst or concern. This chapter charts how the widespread practice of enforcing linguistic homogeneity within modern nations-states, based on the view that this will minimize ethnic and linguistic conflict, actually exacerbates it, forcing linguistic minorities increasingly into avenues and means of dissent. More broadly, it explores how this preoccupation with linguistic homogeneity at the level of the nation-state is an unhelpful artifact of a combination of the negative ascription of ethnicity, the politics of nationalism, and the promotion of an individualist conception of citizenship and human rights. It concludes by arguing that language policies that actively accommodate minority language rights are more, rather than less, likely to ensure political stability—promoting not just political democracy but ethnocultural and ethnolinguistic democracy as well.

Keywords: citizenship, ethnolinguistic, democracy, language, language policy, language rights, linguistic homogeneity, linguistic minority, nationalism

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