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Quentin Williams

Associate Professor of Sociolinguistics, University of the Western Cape

Quentin Williams is Director of the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research (CMDR) and an Associate Professor of Sociolinguistics in the Linguistics Department at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). He is also the Ghent Visiting Professor (Leerstoel Houer) at the Centre for Afrikaans and the study of South Africa at Ghent University (Belgium) (2020/2021). He has published journal articles, book chapters and Op-Ed pieces on the performance and practice of multilingualism, race, Hip Hop, language activism, Afrikaaps, and linguistic citizenship in South Africa. He is Co-Editor of the journal Multilingual Margins: a journal of Multilingualism from the periphery, and co-founder of the Heal the Hood Hip Hop Lecture Series, a forum for the African Hip Hop Indaba. His most recent book is Neva Again: Hip Hop Art, Activism and Education in post-apartheid South Africa (HSRC Press, 2019, with Adam Haupt, H Samy Alim and Emile YX?). He is also author of Making Sense of People and Place in Linguistic Landscapes (Bloomsbury, 2018, with Amiena Peck and Christopher Stroud) and Remix Multilingualism (Bloomsbury Press, 2017). He also features on the Rap album #IntheKeyofB.

Seminar Two Digital Provocation Abstract:  They Bodied That Different English in Difference

In this provocation, I am interested in re-introducing a cultural studies understanding of difference mediated through genre and intertextuality. In other words, difference will be defined as the embodied representation of relationality in difference, that is to say, it will be taken to be a notion that reveal how multilingual speakers embody relations of difference as in difference, arrived at out of conjecture, determination and contradictions of language in practice and performance, and not necessarily in that order. Specifically, I illustrate this provocation of difference with an embodied performance of parody by a emerging R&B and pop group in Cape Town. I pay particular attention to how this group’s parodic performance of a Beyonce Knowles song, published on YouTube, can be understood as an in difference performance and a parodic unsettling of hegemonic linguistic ears of genre authentic loyalists and critics. At the end of my presentation, I’ll outline a few threads to advance in our study of difference today.