"Think in English, speak in English and dream in English"
English and local constructions of the transnational Ismaili Muslim community

Dr. Brook Bolander
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS),
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany


Date:        Sept. 11, 2014 (Thu)
Time:        5:00 pm
Venue:     Seminar Room (Rm. 745, Run Run Shaw Tower),

                 Centennial Campus, HKU

*All are welcome. No registration is required.



Literature on language and globalisation has recently begun to address questions of how and where transnational communities are constructed. This is the result of a growing interest in the role language plays in the construction of transnational spaces. Since English is often perceived as the global language per se, such questions also turn our attention to the role English plays in this process of community construction. In this paper, I aim to contribute to this discussion. To do so, I will focus on the ideological importance of English for the transnational Ismaili Muslim community, which has progressively adopted English as its lingua franca and official language. Moreover, I will examine how English at the same time emerges as local. To explore the complex interplay between the local and the transnational, I will draw on different sources of data: interviews from seven months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Northern Pakistan and Eastern Tajikistan, computer-mediated data and secondary literature. I will furthermore address implications of my work for contemporary research on English as a global language, language and transnational spaces, and language and religion.


Last updated: 12 December 2014