Merging of communes at the language borders in Graubünden and the consequences for (minority) languages

Multilingualism in institutions and society
Project management:
10.2011 to 12.2016

PhD project supervisors: Prof. Alexandre Duchêne, Prof. em. Georges Darms, University of Fribourg

The focus of the PhD project is placed on linguistic and cultural discourses which come to light in the course of merging communes in the Canton of Graubünden. The reform of political structures is currently a major topic on the political agenda, and the issues of language and culture are particularly sensitive at the language borders in Graubünden. Merging communes can create new linguistic compositions in an area, which has major implications for the official languages and the languages spoken at school, and results in fears within language minorities that their language may become marginalised or even replaced. This study aims to shed light on the conditions under which language becomes a factor in merging processes and how this phenomenon is manifested. The thesis further explores reasons for language becoming a factor, and examines how the structural reforms influence the affected languages and their speakers.

By means of a historiographic approach and institutional ethnography, the project aims to compile information on current debates on language and language practices, on the political developments, and on tensions between the language groups.