Individual Grassroots Multilingualism in Africa Town in Guangzhou: The Role of States in Globalization

Huamei Han*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on the first phase of a larger sociolinguistic ethnography, this article explores how individual migrants of African and Chinese backgrounds expand their multilingual repertoires in Africa Town in Guangzhou, China. Focusing on two cases, I demonstrate how they maintain and develop transnational and translocal connections simultaneously (Levitt & Glick Schiller, 2004) and how this constitutes the processes of expanding multilingual repertoires without instruction. I illustrate that these processes are shaped by material and symbolic resources, including premigration linguistic repertoires, intersecting with states. I argue that individual multilingual repertoires index life trajectories (Blommaert & Backus, 2011) that are enabled and constrained by resources accumulated in countries and regions that are ranked differently within the world geopolitical order (Levitt & Jaworsky, 2007).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-97
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Multilingual Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • China
  • globalization
  • multilingualism
  • states


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