Caroline Kerfoot

Caroline Kerfoot


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at The Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism
Telephone 08-16 15 06
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 D
Room D 438
Postal address Institutionen för svenska och flerspråkighet 106 91 Stockholm

About me

My research lies at the intersection of critical sociolinguistics, linguistic ethnography, language socialization, and language policy. It addresses questions of multilingualism, epistemic justice, and the construction of social orders in schools characterized by high levels of diversity and mobility. My work examines children’s and youth's communicative practices in encounters across difference in classrooms and playgrounds. It combines long-term ethnography and fine-grained analysis of language interactions, along with archival and other textual material.  This approach allows me to situate everyday linguistic interactions within a larger sociohistorical frame.  This research also contributes to current debates on multilingual pedagogies as well as on decolonizing education.

Current research projects

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) funded sabbatical: Postracial potentials: Language, identity, and epistemic access in multilingual schools. 2018-2019.

NOS (The Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences) Contact zones in the Nordic countries: multilingualism, mobility, and diversifying diversity, together with University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, and University of Copenhagen, Denmark. 2017-2019.

Editorial Boards

Multilingual Margins

Reading and Writing: Journal of the Reading Association of South Africa.

Bloomsbury Academic series Multilingualisms and Diversities in Education (series editors Kathleen Heugh, Christopher Stroud and Piet Van Avermaet)

Multilingualism and Language Contact book series, Language Science Press 

Cogent Arts & Humanities, Taylor Francis

Associate Member, The MOSAIC Centre for Research on Multilingualism, University of Birmingham


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Caroline Kerfoot, Kenneth Hyltenstam.

    This book uniquely explores the shifting structures of power and unexpected points of intersection – entanglements – at the nexus of North and South as a lens through which to examine the impact of global and local circuits of people, practices and ideas on linguistic, cultural and knowledge systems. The volume considers the entanglement of North and South on multiple levels in the contemporary and continuing effects of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism, in the form of silenced or marginalized populations, such as refugees, immigrants, and other minoritised groups, and in the different orders of visibility that make some types of practices and knowledge more legitimate and therefore more visible. It uses a range of methodological and analytical frames to shed light on less visible histories, practices, identities, repertoires, and literacies, and offer new understandings for research and for language, health care, education, and other policies and practices.

  • 2017. Caroline Kerfoot, Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen.

    This book focuses on how to address persistent linguistically structured inequalities in education, primarily in relation to South African schools, but also in conversation with Australian work and with resonances for other multilingual contexts around the world. The book as a whole lays bare the tension between the commitment to multilingualism enshrined in the South African Constitution and language-in-education policy, and the realities of the dominance of English and the virtual absence of indigenous African languages in current educational practices. It suggests that dynamic plurilingual pedagogies can be allied with the explicit scaffolding of genre-based pedagogies to help redress asymmetries in epistemic access and to re-imagine policies, pedagogies, and practices more in tune with the realities of multilingual classrooms. The contributions to this book offer complementary insights on routes to improving access to school knowledge, especially for learners whose home language or language variety is different to that of teaching and learning at school. All subscribe to similar ideologies which include the view that multilingualism should be seen as a resource rather than a 'problem' in education. Commentaries on these chapters highlight evidence-based high-impact educational responses, and suggest that translanguaging and genre may well offer opportunities for students to expand their linguistic repertoires and to bridge epistemological differences between community and school. This book was originally published as a special issue of Language and Education.

  • 2016. Caroline Kerfoot, Basirat Bello-Nonjengele. Applied Linguistics 37 (4), 451-473

    This article engages with Bourdieu’s notion of field as a ‘space of play’ to explore what happens to the educational field and the linguistic regimes operating within it in a site in which new discourses and practices of identity, language, ‘race’, and ethnicity become entangled with local economies of meaning. The context is a primary school in a low-income neighbourhood in Cape Town, South Africa. We draw on multilingual classroom and playground data from observations, interviews, and audio-recorded peer interactions among Grade 6 learners to illuminate the strategic mobilization of linguistic repertoires in encounters across difference: as identity-building resources and as means of shaping new interaction orders, restructuring hierarchies of value, subverting indexicalities, and sometimes resignifying racial categories. We further draw attention to a set of circumstances in which local actors have the potential to change, not only the rules of the game, but the game itself.

Show all publications by Caroline Kerfoot at Stockholm University

Last updated: May 29, 2019

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