Department of English

Department of English

City Talk: Urban Identities, Mobilities and Textualities

International Conference


11th and 12th of December 2017, University of Bern, Switzerland

In December 2017, the University of Bern will host an interdisciplinary conference that brings together internationally renowned scholars and young researchers working in the fields of sociolinguistics, critical discourse studies and linguistic anthropology/ethnography. In this regard, we invite the submission of abstracts for presentations. The number of participants will be limited to 20, in order to facilitate a tightly structured conference that affords sufficient time for discussion.

City Talk - Call for papers (PDF, 160KB)

As its intellectual foundation and uniting theme, the conference focuses on the ever-growing web of interdependent urban zones that facilitate the increased and intensified transnational movement of people, products, and information that typifies the contemporary world: “the city”. Our aim is to generate new ideas and advance interdisciplinary knowledge and discussion at the important interface between language, society and “the city” in a globalizing world. We define “the city” here as, at once:

  • a discursive formation (i.e. as ‘text’);
  • an often-potent marker of identity (i.e. through ‘talk’);
  • lived-in, moving, embodied and situated space (i.e. ‘place’), and;
  • a key site of (global) cultural and economic production, consumption, and social inequality.

Society builds cities, but how do cities, in turn, shape society, for better or worse?

We welcome contributions that use a diverse set of analytical and methodological frameworks. We encourage presentations taking a multimodal approach to communication – inclusive of, but not limited to, spoken/written language.


For MA students wanting to attend some of the lectures for credits, please consult the Guest Lecture & Events page to see which lectures are open to the public.

In light of our definition of “the city”, we are committed to exploring a range of perspectives at this event, with discussions drawing upon research in the following thematic areas and sub-disciplines: interactional sociolinguistics; variationist sociolinguistics; linguistic anthropology; the sociolinguistics of globalization; linguistic/semiotic landscapes; language policy; language ideologies; language and power; language and mobility; language and superdiversity; and language in the media (particularly new/digital media).

We are delighted to announce that the following scholars have agreed to make keynote presentations.

Alexandre Duchêne
Professor of Sociology of Language and Multilingualism, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Rodney Jones
Professor of Sociolinguistics and New Media, University of Reading, UK

Giorgia Aiello
Associate Professor in Media and Communication, University of Leeds, UK

Martha Karrebæk
Associate Professor in Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Please send abstracts (max. 300 words, excluding references) to

The deadline for proposals is August 1st, 2017 with anticipated notifications of acceptance by August 15th, 2017.

The number of participants will be limited to 20, in order to facilitate a tightly structured conference that affords sufficient time for discussion.

The principal language of the City Talk conference will be English.

All presentations and coffee breaks will take place in Room 331 of the Hauptgebäude (main building) of the University of Bern. There is no registration and no fee for this event. 

Our lunch on Monday, 11 December will be held at Pittaria and our lunch on Tuesday, 12 December will be held at the Grosse Schanze restaurant. The workshop dinner, at Tre Fratelli (, will begin at 19:00 on Monday, 11 December. In the case of lunch, costs are covered for conference presenters. Unfortunately we are not able to cover costs for the conference dinner. 

Further guests are welcome to join us during the conference, and for coffee breaks, lunch and dinner, at their own expense.

One of the major goals of the conference is the publication of an edited volume based on a selection of exemplary papers from the conference. At this event, we want to give junior researchers and local PhD students the opportunity to present their research projects to peers, network with leading figures in contemporary sociolinguistics/discourse studies, and ultimately publish alongside some of the world's leading researchers.

Joseph Comer (
Gwynne Mapes (