Le Centre culturel Aberdeen : minority Francophone discourses and social space



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This study investigates Discourses of language use (Gee, 2005) in a community of artists and artistic promoters associated with the Centre culturel Aberdeen in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Members of this network are described as Acadian social actors, those who have cultural and linguistic capital, thus the potential capacity to influence Discourses of language use circulating in Acadian society, through language use accompanying their art and artistic promotion (Bourdieu, 2001; Heller, 2003; Heller & Labrie, 2004). This study specifically explores this group’s discursive constructions of their roles within social spaces (Lefebvre, 1991) in which they participate as artists, beginning with the Centre Aberdeen itself, expanding to Greater Moncton, Acadie, Canada, and finally, to the international space of la francophonie. Their discourse shows these roles to be highly dependent on the linguistic marketplace associated with each space.

The findings indicate that in the space of the Centre culturel Aberdeen, formerly conceived of as a minority language space, French remains the dominant language of practice; however, many participants affirm that the use of other languages in the Centre is not censured. Some participants even refer to Aberdeen as a bilingual space. In the social space of Greater Moncton, the discourse of bilingual participants demonstrates their inner conflict between using French in their art to affirm their Acadian identity and using English in order to have a greater audience. In Acadie, the participants’ discourse focuses principally on how to represent regional varieties of French in writing, including Chiac, the variety of French local to Southeastern New Brunswick. In the space of Acadie and beyond, participants speak to the need for a normative register of French in extra-regional communications. In the national Francophone social space, participants express their frustration at lack of exposure and the essentialization of their identity in Canada’s Francophone media. In speaking of la francophonie, participants again insist on the necessity of a standard form of French for global communication, while affirming that they also assert their cultural distinctiveness in their art with regional expressions. These findings are in line with elements of Heller and Labrie’s (2004) post-nationalist discours mondialisant.