Gentle Activism: Decolonising the arts curriculum through translanguaging with speaker: Dr Victoria Odeniyi (MOSAIC Seminar)

Wednesday 3 November 2021 (16:00-17:00)

Hua Zhu

MOSAIC Group for Research on Multilingualism Seminar Series 2021-22

Gentle Activism: Decolonising the arts curriculum through translanguaging

Speaker: Dr Victoria Odeniyi, University of the Arts, London

Universities are increasingly branding themselves as global, yet language in education policies and practices do not always reflect or adapt to the increasingly international and multilingual student body.

The presentation reports on an ethnographically-oriented study concerned with understanding the complexity of teaching and communication practices within online classrooms. The study combines the analysis of ethnographic fieldwork and classroom interaction and draws on the iterative principles of ethnographic monitoring reflecting a desire to effect institutional change (Van de Aa & Blommaert, 2011). Translanguaging has been defined in diverse ways (Garcia and Li Wei, 2014) and relevant conceptualisations for the presentation are: translanguaging as a normative practice among multilingual speakers and translanguaging as a description of practices which includes multimodal and other semiotic resources (see McKinney 2020).

I share one or two insights from the project fieldwork in order to make visible the role of translanguaging in art and design practice with a focus on how multilingual students make use of multiple scripts and multiple languages, in doing so speaking back to a largely Anglonormative institution.  At the same time, explicit reference to the role of language(s) is often missing from current initiatives to decolonise the university curriculum. To increase participation amongst ethno-linguistically diverse groups, I suggest that new ways of thinking are needed which may demand more from universities as inequalities and injustices are tackled.


Victoria Odeniyi has worked in British universities for 25 year and she has a doctorate in applied linguistics from Canterbury Christchurch University. Victoria leads the Reimagining Conversations with Multilingual Students research project at the University of the Arts, London, where she is affiliated to the Decolonising Arts Institute. Current research and professional interests include: educational inequality, ethnography, multilingualism and academic practice. You can find out more about her work here.

All welcome at this free seminar. Those who register will be sent details of the link to zoom in their confirmation email.