The community of Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria is dwindling and so too is the number of members within this community who, to some extent, know the language commonly termed Ladino (but often called Judesmo by the community itself). Their linguistically-framed cultural identity has been part of the South-Eastern European context for several hundred years but is now threatened. What can be learned from this Sephardic Jewish-Ladino case which might be of relevance for other endangered and oppressed groups? To this end, we are interested in how the (often elderly) members of this Sephardic community in Bulgaria draw upon their linguistic and cultural resources to define themselves, to articulate their various identities, and to communicate within and beyond Bulgarian society. We are exploring their linguistic identity-play through a narrative study of the lived language experiences of fourteen individuals from this community. We are discovering that our storytellers work creatively with what is available to them in Ladino (Judesmo) - the traditional but endangered language of cultural affiliation for them - and, at the same time, also perform their identities in Bulgarian - which, for their ancestors, was more a language for communication and transaction and less a language of affiliation. We begin our discussion by setting the research context, and then highlight the innovative methodological features of our study (namely the development of reciprocal reflexivity through researcher narratives and the multilingual research processes). We then present some of the narrative data and our analysis of it with view to establishing how some members of the Sephardic Jewish community in Bulgaria use the language resources they have to perform their complex national and diasporic identities.The study involves several languages (and therefore issues of translation and representation) as well as the use of researcher narratives to develop reciprocal reflexivity between ourselves (a necessity given our differing identities and linguistic resources).
|Conference||the 4th ENIEDA Conference on Linguistic and Intercultural Education – Negotiating and constructing European identities across languages and cultures|
|Period||29/09/11 → 1/10/11|
- Ladino, sephardic, bulgaria, narrative inquiry, doing research multilingually, reciprocal reflexivity, identity-play