On Saturday 15 February, the University of Westminster hosted a conference about remapping the cultural and linguistic landscape of Chinese in Britain.
Hosted by HOMELandS (Hub on Migration, Exile, Languages and Spaces) in Collaboration with Westminster’s Contemporary China Centre, the conference that was held in the Pavilion at Cavendish Campus addressed the need for a better understanding of the new development of Chinese communities in the UK. It was generously supported by the Language Acts and Worldmaking Small Grant Scheme and the AHRC Open World Research Initiative (OWRI).
The conference was organised by Dr Cangbai Wang, Reader from the School of Humanities, which brought together researchers, Chinese language teachers, community leaders and policy makers to identify and examine the changing linguistic and cultural landscape of the Chinese in Britain.
The event began with an opening address from Professor of Chinese Studies and deputy head of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Professor Gerda Wielander. Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths Caroline Knowles and Professor of Applied Linguistics at University College London Li Wei gave keynote speeches.
Professor Knowles spoke about conceptualising ethnicities and urban space in a mobile world, while Professor Li discussed multilingualism in the Chinese community in Britain, investigating diversities from within. Session discussions were organised around issues of ‘negotiating Chineseness in a changing Britain’, ‘speaking Chinese in multilingual London’, ‘British Chinese as a Transnational Subject’ and ‘theorising and doing British Chinese heritage’.
Talking about the event, Dr Wang said: “The past two decades have witnessed a steady rise in the number of Chinese people who study in UK schools and universities. As a result, there is an urgent need to document and conceptualise this important demographic and cultural shift.
“This is not only necessary for a better understanding of the new development of Chinese communities in the UK, but also for the benefit of Britain, whose future is increasingly built upon its understanding of and relations with the rest of the world.”