Trans-nationalizing the African public sphere: What role for trans-border languages?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At a time when the notion of 'trans-national public spheres' is gaining more and more currency in academic circles, the role played by languages, and trans-border languages in particular, cannot be ignored in our attempts to rethink the African public sphere. In the African context, language has been a major factor in determining cultural and ethnic identity among various groups, whether they live within the same nation-state or are territorially dispersed. This situation problematizes the idea of a Westphalian citizenry resident in a national territory, and challenges the assumption that languages map onto states. This paper focuses on the Fulfulde language - a trans-border language spoken across several national boundaries in West Africa - and assesses ways in which trans-border languages contribute to the emergence of a transnational public sphere in Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-70
Number of pages16
JournalAfrica Development
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Transnational Public Sphere
  • Africa
  • Languages
  • Puular
  • Fulfulde
  • Trans-border

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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