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
  • 2018. Caroline Kerfoot. The Multilingual Citizen, 263-288

    In South Africa, democratic consolidation involves not only building a new state but also new interfaces between state and society. In order to strengthen the agency of citizens at these interfaces, recent approaches to development stress the notion of ‘participatory citizenship’ which recasts citizenship as practised rather than given. The purpose of this paper is to explore the links between such practices of participatory citizenship and possibilities for literacy and language education in state adult learning centres. It draws on an impact study of a capacity building programme for educators of adults in the Northern Cape Province and uses interviews and document analysis to explore the ways in which meaning-making unfolded in new participatory spaces. It argues that such processes can be seen as  a form of ‘linguistic citizenship’ in which individuals and groups re-shaped the multilingual representational resources available to them to validate the authority of subaltern actors and mobilise collective agency. It uses the concept of resemiotisation (Iedema 1999) to investigate how the choice of different semiotic complexes enabled or constrained participation and to offer a set of principles for reconceptualising the provision of adult basic education.

  • 2017. Caroline Kerfoot, Gwendoline Tatah. Entangled Discourses, 37-58
  • 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.

Show all publications by Caroline Kerfoot at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 11, 2019

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