Thursday January the 23rd 2020 at 5pm
Free entrance
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‘KANRAXËL – THE CONFLUENCE OF AGNACK’

A unique documentary about linguistic and cultural diversity in a setting too often portrayed as tribal, isolated and underdeveloped.

The “café pédagogique” will be introduced by Professor Friederike Lüpke, Pofessor of African Studies in the Department of Languages at the University of Helsinki. Her research focuses on the Mande and Atlantic languages of West Africa.
This award-winning documentary film is based on her research and situated in the village where she has conducted field work for ten years.

The film takes place in the beautiful and small village of Agnack Grand in Casamance, Senegal. Officially, Senegal is a francophone country. But this characterisation hides the thick multilingualism that prevails in most spheres of society, and that is especially strong in Casamance.  Agnack is a place where both rivers and people converge in the most stunning of ways – a place where it is considered perfectly normal to speak a minimum of six languages. For the first time in history the people of Agnack allowed cameras to film.

Kanraxël – The confluence of Agnack’ is unique because multilingualism and diversity are concepts generally associated with modern urbanization and globalization. Centuries-old ways of managing cultural and linguistic diversity in so-called “traditional” and rural societies, on the other hand, hardly touch the public mind. This is especially true for African societies.

The film vividly portrays how deeply multilingualism is embedded in everyday life, and how languages that only recently arrived in the area – Wolof and French, the languages associated with colonisation – are integrated into fluid language use but, in the case of French, also create new monolingual spaces. The film invites its audiences to reflect on their own repertoires and imaginations of language, and to explore linguistic expressions of identity that are very different from European models.

Friederike Lüpke : In addition to the basic description and documentation of these languages, she investigates language use in the multilingual configurations in which these languages are spoken. Between 2014 and 2018 she led the  Crossroads Project investigating organic multilingualism in rural Casamance. She currently leads a team developing models of multilingual education that do not turn multilingualism into a burden for speakers and intended writers of small languages and is currently experimenting with language-independent literacies.