Andrew Lynch

University of Miami


Andrew Lynch is Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Miami, where he serves as Director of the Spanish Heritage Language Program. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Heritage Language Journal, published by NHLRC. His research and teaching focus broadly on sociolinguistics, societal language contact, and critical theories of language. He has published extensively on topics of Spanish in the United States, Spanish language variation, and heritage language theory and research, and is co-author of El español en contacto con otras lenguas (Georgetown UP, 2009) and editor of Spanish in the Global City (Routledge, forthcoming).

The Postmodern Imperative in Heritage Language Studies

In this talk, I consider the broader societal implications of heritage language research and education within the frameworks of globalization and postmodernity. In the incipient shift from modernity to postmodernity, boundaries of all sorts are contested: national, ethnic, cultural, public/private, financial, etc. Some suggest that we have now entered an era of global flows in which clear boundaries are eroding (e.g. Appadurai 1996), and others argue that we face an emergent ‘post-national’ order of things (e.g. Heller 2011). Mass migration, media flows, cyberspace, transnational neoliberal economic orders, global consumerism, and the rise of NGOs and tertiary economies are commonly-cited causes for the reworking of nation-state and center-periphery ideologies in recent decades (Block 2006; Duchêne & Heller 2012). We currently bear witness to the struggle between the one language-one nation ideological imperative of modernity and the multicultural/ transnational paradigm of postmodernity, in which languages are increasingly commodified and conceptualized on both local and global scales. I will describe the potential of heritage language studies to inform sociolinguistic theory in the postmodern era, as traditional terms such as ‘minority’, ‘minoritized’, ‘community’ or ‘immigrant’ language take on increasingly complex meanings, and I will briefly address the institutional dimensions of globalizing phenomena relative to heritage languages.