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  • Belonging in mother tongues

Mourgue d'Algue, Amélie, 2018, Thesis, Belonging in mother tongues PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

What does it mean to belong? On the one hand, belonging is the dynamic, internal,
intimate, individual experience of relating to others and being part of a ‘we’ that remains
undetermined. On the other hand, belonging is the result of an external act of
attribution, a fixed assignation of identity. Both are essentially carried in and through
language.
I propose that belonging is made possible by the act of coming to speaking and the
experience of being heard. I explore this possibility through a social art practice that
works with the poetic, emotive, reflexive and phatic function of the word, especially
when spoken, and of the photographic image, still or moving. My research outputs,
often the results of encounters and collaborations taking place in specific places,
function as examples of what it means to belong.
Throughout this research project, I draw on the experience of living in between one’s
mother tongue and other languages in order to demonstrate how immersing oneself in a
language different from the language one grew up in radically reconfigures a subject’s
identity and sense of belonging. The Bulgarian-French psychoanalyst, literary theorist
and poet Julia Kristeva writes that in between silence, your element is silence. Breaking
that silence and coming to speaking and writing in a new language transforms the
relation between subject and language into a dynamic and emancipatory relation,
reassessing what makes a language maternal and proposing a reformulation of what it
means to belong.
The experience of belonging is connected to the practice of place. Over the past couple
of years, I have developed my research in between three different kind of places: the
fine art research seminar room, conversing with fellow researchers who live in between
languages, the Masbro community centre in Hammersmith, London, working with the
students and teachers of English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes, and my home,
which is the place where I live with my family, welcome my relatives and friends and
develop my work.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > Linguistics > Q900 Others in Linguistics
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2018 16:12
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:49
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3458

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