Living intercultural lives ….

Building on our earlier work (on Ladino and intercultural identity and ‘competence’), am pleased to say that the following contribution by Leah Davcheva and myself has now been accepted for the ‘Identities, Relationships and Languages in Migration’ conference taking place 25th – 27th September, 2015 in Cagliari, Sardinia.

“Living Intercultural Lives: Identity Performance and Zones of Interculturality”
The Sephardim in present day Bulgaria are descendants from the Ladino speaking Jews whose life of over a thousand years on the Iberian Peninsula was dramatically cut short at the close of the 15th century. Thousands sailed east, across the Mediterranean, and found new homes around the sea including North Africa and the Balkans – a process enabling the ‘exchange’ of locations, as well as the mingling of languages and cultures.

Studying the narratives of often elderly Sephardic Jews living in Bulgaria, we reach back almost a century in order to trace the intra-, inter-, and trans-cultural activities that this diasporic community continue to engage in, within and beyond their home society, interactions enabled by their multilingualism and especially the use of Ladino – a language of cultural affiliation for most of them.

Based on our exploration of their stories, we have developed a new, data-grounded conceptualisation of intercultural competence (ICC) as a dynamic process of performing intra-/inter-/trans-cultural identities in zones of interculturality.

We begin our session by setting the context and then highlight certain, innovative aspects of our research methodology – for example, attention to and transparent accounts of researching multilingually, and the use of researcher narratives in the service of reciprocal reflexivity. We then present some of the narrative data and our analysis of it with view to establishing how some members of the Sephardic Jewish community in Bulgaria use the language resources they have to perform their complex national and diasporic identities. We invite the participants in our session to read excerpts from the stories, share their own thoughts and make sense together.

Keywords: zones of interculturality, identity performance, languacultural resources