Espaces politiques

18 novembre 202115:15 - 16:35

The Contact Zone: Examining Linguistic Identity in Franco-Ontarian and Anglo-Québec Writing

Katrina Kaustinen, Université de Montréal

While the English/French binary does exist in pockets of the country inhabited by francophone communities, the linguistic reality of Canada is multiple and murky. The country’s two official languages come together in « contact zones » in which French and English are spoken alongside each other and even interchangeably. In these « contact zones, » language operates « across linguistic lines of social differentiation » and communities are based on how English or French « speakers constitute each other relationally in difference, how they enact differences in language. » (Leclerc & Simon, 2005) Despite the powerful influence of community belonging built upon binary opposition, bilingualism is the norm in most « contact zones, » including Franco-Ontarian and Anglo-Quebec spaces.

This essay will examine how Franco-Ontarian writing explores the notion of the « contact zone » in relation to linguistic identity and tension by examining two important works of Franco-Ontarian literature: French Town, by Michel Ouellette and Patrice Desbiens’ The Invisible Man. By writing in both French and English, Desbiens simultaneously expands and restricts his readership. As a result, the text produced in this linguistic space « will read very differently to people in different positions in the contact zone. » (Leclerc & Simon, 2005) Similarly, Ouellette explores internalized shame and the pressure to choose sides within bilingualism by committing to one language. I argue that Franco-Ontarian writers anticipate a bilingual reader who does not translate thoughts from one language to the other, for whom reading is not an act of translation-creation (Simon, 2006). Instead, writers and readers alike use both languages collaboratively, simultaneously, and interchangeably. 

Like Anglo-Quebec literature, Franco-Ontarian texts are defined by what they are not: Québécois (in the French use of the term). While the question of whether or not an Anglo-Quebec literature exists and how to define it is still up for debate, Franco-Ontarian texts are a useful tool in situating bilingualism and linguistic « exile » (Solway, 2001) in a reversed yet complementary framework. For the Anglo-Quebecois, French is an almost alien material, whose mastery is never quite attainable and always present. 

English-language authors are thus a minority within a minority for whom a sort of fascination and appreciation of this otherness of sorts is perceivable in the works of Anglo-Quebec writers. In this sense, they are doubly exiled (Solway, 2001) from the literary world they otherwise belong to. Similarly, the double exile of minority-within-minority Franco-Ontarian literature speaks to the invisibility of the bilingual person: the ability to operate in both languages can render one’s cultural affiliation murky at best and at worst.

Works Cited

Desbiens, Patrice. L’Homme invisible/The Invisible Man. Éditions Prise de parole, 2008.

Leclerc, Catherine. Des langues en partage? Cohabitation du français et de l’anglais en            littérature contemporaine. Éditions XYZ, 2010.

Leclerc, Catherine and Sherry Simon, « Zone de contact: nouveaux regards sur la littérature anglo-québécoise. » Voix et images, vol 30, no 3, printemps 2005, 15-29.

Ouellette, Michel. French Town. Le Nordir, 1994.

Scott, Gail. « My Montreal: Notes of an Anglo-Québécois Writer. » Brick 59, Spring 1998, 4-8.

Simon, Sherry. « Paths of perversity: Creative Interference. » in Translating Montreal: Episodes in the Life of a Divided City. McGill-Queen’s UP, 2006, 119-161.

Solway, David. « Double Exile in Montreal English-Language Poetry. » in Language Acts: Anglo-Quebec Poetry, 1976 to the 21st Century. Ed. Jason Camlot and Todd Swift.    Véhicule, 2001, 80-86.

Evaluating the Concept of “Homeland” as Presented in Turkey’s Dominant Political Discourse

Panagiotis-Fanourios Zaradoukas et Dr Georgios Michalakopoulos, Ionian University (Greece)

From the time of Fuzuli to the epoch of Namık Kemal, the connotation of the notion “homeland” (vatan) changed from one depicting one’s birthplace to one embracing a “national” territory. From the depiction of several types of “vatan” to the territorial nationalism of the Kemalists, the sentimental approach turned into a political one. As Özkan (2012) writes, vatan represents a “timeless natural symbol of the reality of Turkish nation and state”.

In Turkey, the notion of “homeland” has been connected not only to national space but also to specific legal provisions. And thus, following Lefebvre’s (1976) reasoning, the political needs of hegemonic elites determined how society perceived “space” in ideological terms. The rise of nationalism and the revival of the Ottoman past within a religious “veiling” are among the dominant ideologies that characterize today’s political discourse in Turkey as expressed by the ruling elite. This practice is not new or unexpected but it is the result of a redefinition of the concept of “homeland” in order to satisfy not only the communicative, and thus ideological, interests and aspirations of the speaker, i.e. the ruling government elite, but also the psyche of their audience, which holds fast to religious and conservative values.

Depending on the historical or social context of the speeches, the purpose of the speaker is either to instill to the audience the sense of unity and to demonstrate the universality and importance of the Turkish nation’s values and dynamism beyond its borders or, in certain circumstances, to disorient public opinion by designating “external enemies”. One distinctive method used in the speeches of Turkish President Erdoğan is the reference to natural borders and to the borders of the “heart”, two concepts that do not necessarily match. The natural borders refer to a country’s natural geography, while the borders of the “heart”—a purely sentiment loaded concept—extend beyond Turkey and include areas with a Turkish population, regions that the government considers important economically, militarily and politically, and, last but not least, regions with a Muslim majority. This contrast in the use of the concept of “homeland” has resulted in the disorientation of the public opinion from urgent domestic issues and the emergence of revisionist tendencies and intentions to redraw the borders in the wider periphery of Turkey. This study focuses on the identification of the “homeland” concept’s semantic change and the conceptual representations it conveys. Our analysis is based on a series of political speeches delivered by Erdoğan in which the concept of “homeland” is manipulated in order to satisfy the interests of the government elite. The study’s theoretical tools comprise the Critical Discourse Analysis methodology and especially the theories of Van Dijk, Fairclough and Chilton, which deal, among other things, with the concept of “territoriality” and the lack of ideological neutrality in political discourse. Our aim is, firstly, to demonstrate the change, in terms of semantics, of the concept of “homeland” in Turkish political discourse as determined by the speeches’ historical or social content and, secondly, to present the ideologicalization and manipulation of the geopolitical space in order to satisfy the interests and aspirations of the government elite.

Keywords: types of vatan, territorial vatan, spiritual vatan, Critical Discourse Analysis, Turkey, political discourse, territoriality, geopolitical space, physical space


  • Chilton, P. (2004). Analysing Political Discourse: Theory and Practice. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. London & New York: Longman.
  • Van Dijk, T. (1993). Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis. Discourse & Society, 4(2), 249-283. Retrieved from: http:/
  • Özkan, B. (2012). From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan: The Making of a National Homeland in Turkey. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
  • Lefebvre, H. and Enders, M. J. (1976), Reflections on the Politics of Space. Antipode, 8: 30-37.

Various concepts such as travel, the nomad, the tourist, and the smooth spaces have been recruited to produce plausible metaphors that frame the enormous mobilities of our postmodern times. Metaphors of social mobility are important not only because they create, maintain and transform social boundaries, but they also shape how people create meaning in their constant relationship with space. Though these metaphors highlight an interaction between motion and space, they are usually reduced to one perspective and forced to neglect the interaction between social actors. This paper seeks to bridge this gap by exploring how divergent perspectives manipulate the same image schema in order to sustain and/or challenge power relationships. Within an interactional framework and drawing on Van Dijk’s sociocognitive approach and Conceptual Metaphor Theory, mobility-related metaphors will be analyzed in terms of their underlying SOURCE-PATH-GOAL image schema. Analysis of a corpus of Tunisian idioms on social mobility reveals the interaction of three frames of reference. The first frame represents the actor who moves from the PERIPHERY along a path towards the CENTER. The second frame is that of the actor who thinks that they represent the CENTER. The third frame is that of the State with its top-down narratives. The first frame of reference accentuates the PATH and activates the figure of the mover, while the second frame emphasizes the SOURCE from a sedentary defensive perspective. The third and last frame of reference highlights the GOAL as a static condition. The PATH-related metaphors frame the marginalized people’s aspirations to move from the periphery to the center. The SOURCE metaphors are (mis)used to stigmatize migrants for their origins, as well as to emphasize disconnection between insiders and outsiders. The GOAL metaphors use the power of illusion of the State to propagate an image of an ideal society as a bounded space. Drawing on these findings, the paper argues that these metaphors reinforce the need for constant re-construal of social space and mobilities. Further research on the interaction of these three frames is required to demystify the discourse of illusion and to generate social equality-promoting metaphors.


Anthias, F. (2018). Identity and belonging: Conceptualizations and reframings through a translocational lens. In Davis, K., Ghorashi, H. and Smets, P. (Eds.), Contested belonging: spaces, practices, biographies (pp. 137–159). Emerald Publishing Limited.

Gibbs Jr, R. W. & Colston, H. L. (2006). The cognitive psychological reality of image schemas and their transformations. In Geeraerts, Dirk (Ed.), Cognitive linguistics: Basic readings (pp. 239–268). Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter.

Graumann, C. F. & Graumann, W. (2002). Perspective and perspectivation in discourse: An introduction. In Perspective and perspectivation in discourse (pp. 1–11). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Günter, R. (1996). Motion metaphorized: The case of coming and going. In Casad, Eugene H (Ed.), Cognitive linguistics in the redwoods: The expansion of a new paradigm in linguistics (pp. 423–458). Mouton de Gruyter Berlin.

La Barbera, M. (2015). Identity and migration: An introduction. In La Barbera, MariaCaterina (Ed.), Identity and migration in Europe: Multidisciplinary perspectives (pp. 1–13). Springer.

Lakusta, L. & Landau, B. (2005). Starting at the end: The importance of goals in spatial language. Cognition, 96(1), 1–33.

Landau, M. J., Meier, B. P. & Keefer, L. A. (2010). A metaphor-enriched social cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 136(6), 1045.

Meermann, A. & Sonnenhauser, B. (2015). Distance: Between Deixis and Perspectivity. In Meermann, Anastasia and Sonnenhauser, Barbara (Eds.), Distance in Language: Grounding a Metaphor (pp. 37–66). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Nail, T. (2018). Borders in Motion. In Posthuman Ecologies: Complexity and Process after Deleuze (pp. 183–203). Rowman & Littlefield International.

Rohrer, T. (2005). Image schemata in the brain. In Hampe, Beate and Grady, Joe (Eds.), From perception to meaning: Image schemas in cognitive linguistics (pp. 165–196). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.

Stefanowitsch, A. (2018). The goal bias revisited: A collostructional approach. Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association, 6(1), 143–166.

Thomassen, L. (2015). Foreward. In La Barbera, MariaCaterina (Ed.), Identity and migration in Europe: Multidisciplinary perspectives (pp. iv–vii). Springer.

Tilly, C. (2004). Social boundary mechanisms. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 34(2), 211–236.

Urry, J. (2012). Sociology beyond societies: Mobilities for the twenty-first century. Routledge.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2014). Discourse and knowledge: A sociocognitive approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Van Houtum, H. (2019). The Janus-border of the Monad and the Nomad: An essay on the philosophy of b/ordering and othering 1. In Debating and Defining Borders (pp. 181–194). Routledge.

Figures of Flânerie in Gail Scott's Heroine

William Brubacher, Université de Montréal

This paper highlights the processes of rupture, fragmentation, and suture revealed by the characters who wander through and observe Montreal in Gail Scott’s novel Heroine. Scott favours a cinematic approach to the novel that allows her to reinvent the archetype of the bourgeois, white, male flâneur as previously imagined in the early twentieth century by Charles Beaudelaire and Walter Benjamin (1990), among others. While exposing the historical, ideological, and materialist tenants of this privileged figure, Scott resorts to a narrative montage of cuts and juxtapositions that has multiple functions (Quartermain 2012). First, in the construction of what she defines as “sutured subjects” (Scott 2008), Scott’s writing reveals a fragmentation of the spaces and places that constitute the Canadian metropolis. Secondly, wandering figures placed in Montreal by the author guide readers towards the flaws of a homogenization at the level of gender, sexuality, and of the colour of the skin of its inhabitants and the city’s landscape. Thus, the character of a lesbian woman walks and tells the sexual and gendered history of a city whose fragmentation is manifested through its diversity. The walks and wanderings of the characters in the novel sculpt a linguistic and political landscape that also reveals ruptures, fragments, and sutures in the subjects who inhabit it. Finally, the distant but intimate witness posture of the flâneur/observer, symbolized by a racialized tourist observing the city from the top of the Mount Royal belvedere, intrudes into the lives of the novel’s characters, whether they are battered revolutionaries gathered in cafés or sex workers whose voices describe the public and private spaces of the city.

Relying on contemporary understandings of flânerie (Chisholm 2005; Wagner 2019), this paper seeks to show how queer and racialized figures of flânerie allow the author to exploit the observed, watched, and surveyed space to reveal gaps in discourses of homogenisation and to create, within this fragmented and sutured physical, political, and linguistic space, fluid and heterogeneous subjectivities.


Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Harvard University Press, 1990

Chisholm, Dianne. Queer Constellations: Subcultural Space in the Wake of the City. University of Minnesota Press, 2005.

Quartermain, Meredith. “How Fiction Works: Gail Scott’s Heroine and The Obituary.” Open Letter, 14.9, 2012, pp.112-127.

Scott, Gail. Heroine, second revised edition. Coach House Books, Toronto, 1987, 2019.

-. “The Sutured Subject.” Review of Contemporary Fiction 28.3 (2008): 62-72.

Wagner, Johanna M.. “Public Places, Intimate Spaces. The Modern Flâneuse in Rhys, Barnes, and Loos.” e-Rea, vol.16, no.2, 2019,

Keywords : Gail Scott, flânerie, Montreal, subjectivity, suture


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