Language rights and groups of immigrant origin
The case of language claimsin the Spanish cities in North Africa
In this article, I aim to analyse language rights in relation to groups of immigrant origin. Liberal democracies are reluctant to consider immigrant groups as subjects entitled to the same set of language and cultural rights enjoyed by national minorities. However, the trend towards increasing levels of immigration is configuring new cultural and language correlations within territorial boundaries that provoke responses that problematise a fixed conception of language rights. Drawing on theories of liberal multiculturalism, I examine the case of claims for language recognition in the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla and its normative implications. In these territories, factors such as size, concentration, and the historical ties of Arabic- and Berber-speaking communities challenge conventional approaches to minority groups’ rights based on a national versus immigrant minority distinction. I argue that these approaches are not satisfactory for language claims in these two cities and that a contextual approach is better suited to conceptualising the recognition of language rights.
Keywords: language rights, language claims, language policy, migration, political theory, multiculturalism, contextualism
Published online: 24 September 2020
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