Building bridges across the Oxus: language, development, and globalization at the Tajik-Afghan frontier

Till Mostowlansky 1
  • 1 Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Till Mostowlansky
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  • Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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Abstract

In this article I set out to explore the Tajik-Afghan frontier in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan region as a “contact zone” in which different actors engage in communicative encounters. Against this backdrop I take the construction of bridges across the Tajik-Afghan border river as a point of departure to analyse how these actors envisage processes of globalization. Following Pennycook, I argue that a focus on language as local practice reveals that the Tajik-Afghan frontier is marked by a high degree of different languages, but also by multiple meanings within and beyond these languages. As a result I maintain that highlighting the locality of languages at the Tajik-Afghan frontier provides an opportunity to frame language as tied to specific communicative encounters in semiotized time and space.

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