Kate Spowage

Profile

I am currently undertaking PhD research within the broad field of the politics of language. In this capacity, I work with Professor Tony Crowley. 

Research interests

My research interests include: 'global' English; language policy; language and ideology; language and discourse; language and capitalism; and hegemony.

In my thesis, I focus on the politics of language in Rwanda. In particular, I am interested in what the Rwandan context can teach us about the relationship between the politics of language (broadly, language as it exists in social, economic, and political relations) and ideology, hegemony, and discourse. Thus, I work closely with political and cultural theory in order to understand the relationship between language in power in the Rwandan context. 

This research is inseperable from the wider concern of 'global' English, precisely because English has become increasingly important in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide. Rwanda is a particularly useful case study for two reasons. First, because the country was colonised by Belgium, and under the Belgian administration French was imposed as the language of power. Second, because Rwanda is one of few post-colonial countries wherein virtually all citizens are mutually intelligble (some figures attest that as many as 99.9% of the population is able to speak Kinyarwanda). Thus, to explain the prioritisation of English in Rwanda we cannot reasonably claim that the language is either a colonial inheritance or a lingua franca. The situation necessitates a nuanced approach to the relationship between language, power, and globalisation.  

Publications:
English and Marx's 'General Intellect': The Construction of an English-Speaking Élite in Rwanda. Language Sciences. 70, pp.167-178. 2018. 

Conference Papers and Presentations:
'Challenging the Monolingual Classroom: Translingual Interaction in Rwanda.' BAAL Language in Africa Special Interest Group Annual Conference, University of Reading, May 2017.
Invested Panelist, Language in Africa Colloquium. 'The Role of Language in Development in sub-Saharan Africa'. BAAL Conference, University of Leeds, 31 August - 2 September 2017.

Other Roles:
School of English PGR Rep, September 2017-present. 
Visiting PhD Student, Aarhus Universitet. May-June 2018.

Professional Development:
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded Residential Course, 19th-23rd June: 'Researching translanguaging: Key concepts, methods & issues', 19-23 June 2017.

Awards:
Douglas Jefferson Scholarship, University of Leeds, 2016-20.
AUFF Visiting Grant, Aarhus Universitet, May-June 2018.


 

Qualifications

  • MRes English Language
  • BA English Language and Linguistics