n French Studies in Southern Africa - Langues et États-nations dans les pays du Sud ou revoir les fondements théoriques de nos disciplines

Volume 2015, Issue 45
  • ISSN : 0259-0247



At a time when social sciences are no longer beyond question and criticism, it is reasonable to believe that researchers must spend their resources not only on producing knowledge but also on examining the type of knowledge that their scholarship produces. This is the rationale behind the meta-analysis, undertaken in this article, of studies carried out on the linguistic and social phenomena in two islands of the Indian Ocean, Madagascar and Mauritius. The article compares the conceptualization of diversity with the theorization of the language and nation-building issue in sociolinguistic research in these two speech communities. It demonstrates that when sociolinguists "describe" the social architecture of these communities, they lay emphasis on the complexities of these multi-ethnic societies which, according to them, are strongly articulated in sociolinguistic variation. However, when it comes to nation building - drawing on Western Europe's philosophy that a shared language is one of the most significant components in successful nation building - they strongly advocate a monolingual/mono-dialectal approach. The apparent contradiction between these two discourses does not lie in the inability of the discipline to adopt a holistic approach to various aspects of the language and societal phenomenon. Rather, the constructs with which research is carried out are underpinned by ideological values which have an organic link with the political history of Europe and the kind of anthropology practised by Western researchers.

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