African Diaspora in the Czech Republic: Raciolinguistic Challenges

Authors: Stephanie Rudwick, Nsama Simuziya (University of Hradec Králové, Czechia)
Speaker: Stephanie Rudwick
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Grounded in ethnography, this paper emerges as part of a project which aims to develop a nuanced account of the social identity politics of the African diaspora in the Czech Republic. While some studies have addressed the historical trajectories of people with African heritage in the Czech Republic, there has been no systematic attempt to examine their contemporary lives. This study responds to this serious paucity by offering a raciolinguistic lens of the lived realities and politics of belonging among African diaspora members in the country. We provide narratives of African/Afro-Czech individuals who have varying degrees of Czech language competencies and multiple life trajectories. Theoretically grounded in an approach which sees language and race as co-constituents in dynamics of Othering, we examine the lived realities of African people in the Czech Republic through a multidisciplinary lens. The study brings to the fore complex racialization processes and linguistic challenges among African residents in the country. Findings suggest that while there are many instances of racism individuals experience, it is also the lack of Czech language proficiency that causes various forms of discrimination. The findings also suggest that on the one hand, there are instances where Czech language skills have the capacity to mitigate the challenges in racial discourses and experiences of racism among African residents. On the other hand, however, there are limits to the power of language in face of racial prejudices and discrimination.

Keywords: Language, Race, African Diaspora, Czech Republic, Raciolinguistics