Gelebte Mehrsprachigkeit im Plattenbau: Untersuchungen von Narrativen und Praktiken russlanddeutscher junger Erwachsener

  • Date:
  • Location: Ihresalen, Engelska parken, Humanistiskt centrum, Thunbergsvägen 3L, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Ackermann-Boström, Constanze
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Tyska
  • Contact person: Ackermann-Boström, Constanze
  • Disputation


This thesis focuses on the lived multilingualism of a group of young Russian-German adults who as children migrated together with their families from post-Soviet states to the Federal Republic of Germany during the 1990s. Today these adults live in a ‘Plattenbau’ housing estate in a small town in one of the new federal states of Germany. The large pre-fabricated concrete-slab system-built housing estates that were built during the GDR-era are today generally considered as deprived areas due a combination of decreasing population and high unemployment.

This thesis shows how young Russian-Germans create a multilingual community of practice and use various aspects of language and non-linguistic resources for identity construction. The data analysed in this thesis comes from ethnographic studies conducted during three phases of fieldwork between Spring 2011 and Spring 2012. The data was collected at a youth centre where the group of young Russian-German adults regularly met.

Combining intensive participant observation, field notes, photos, and narrative interviews the thesis is a mixed-method investigation. Underpinning the analysis of the research data are theoretical models of the relationship between language, identity, and space. Methodologically this study combines linguistic ethnography, narrative analysis, and membership categorization analysis.

The thesis argues that an ethnographical-narrative approach is a powerful tool that is able to highlight the role of language(s) and non-linguistic resources for identity construction in social spaces, illustrates how young Russian-Germans construct a web of multilingual identities by using social categories to position themselves and others, and shows how the lived multilingualism of  young Russian-German adults influences all aspects of their social lives. For example, the thesis shows the maintenance of Russian as a heritage language within Russian-German families, yet and an avoidance of visible signs of the Russian-German heritage in public spaces.