Articulating belonging: Translingualism, belonging and the creation of South African social collectivities

Two-day symposium organized by the University of Amsterdam, University of Gent, and Zuid-Afrikahuis Nederland | Amsterdam, 11-12 November 2021


You are warmly invited to attend the following conference on belonging, literature and identity in the South African context. Keynote speakers will be Quentin Williams (director of the Centre for Multilingualis and Diversities Research at the University of the Western Cape) and poet and public intellectual, Antjie Krog (writer in residence at Gent University during the autumn semester of 2021).


This conference will zoom in on translingualism and transculturality – broadly understood to refer to the fluidity and dynamism of linguistic and cultural borders – in South African literature and culture. The conference has at least three aims. Firstly, it wants to explore how narrative art forms (literature, performance poetry, cinema, theatre and so forth), but also more popular expressions (television series, newspapers, advertisements, graffiti, songs) linguistically produce, and critically reconsider the relationship between language and membership of social collectivities within the South African context. Secondly, this conference also wants to explore how language variations, multilingualism and translingualism in cultural representations index complex social and cultural entanglements in the day-to-day, ordinary lives of South Africans. Thirdly, it wants to investigate how translingualism, the use of multiple language varieties and different languages in narrative texts “destabilize” the position of dominant and/or standardized languages and what such minorizing practices might imply for how language construes social subjectivity and categories of belonging in the South African context.


To register, please fill out this form here before 5 November:


For queries, please email:


The conference organizers:

Yves T’Sjoen

Annelies Verdoolaege

Martina Vitackova

Margriet van der Waal