Dipika Mukherjee's picture
Affiliated Fellow
Dipika Mukherjee


On 21 September 2017, Dipika will give a lecture entitled Trafficking Asian children through international adoptions: a discussion on the making of "Shambala Junction".
Shambala Junction won the 2016 Virginia Prize for Fiction in the United Kingdom. This talk will discuss the research that went into the writing of this novel.


Previous IIAS affiliation: 5 January 2007 - 15 January 2013
Research topic: Negotiating Languages and Forging Identities: Surinamese-Indian Women in the Netherlands

Professor Mukherjee is currently Professor 211 at the Institute of Linguistics at Shanghai International Studies University in China. Her recent work in Malaysia examined the effect of the national language policy on different migrant groups in Malaysia and her co-edited book, National Language Planning & Language Shifts in Malaysian Minority Communities: Speaking in Many Tongues was published by the Amsterdam University Press in April 2011.

She is currently working on the manuscript of The Malaysian Sociolinguistic Scene: A Selection of Studies (to be co-edited with Maya Khemlani David and Mohan Lal);  A monograph on Women and Language Change in the Malaysian-Bengali Community; and two journal articles on Language Planning and Policy in China.


Project 2:

In recent years sociolinguistic studies have focused on the study of language as a political and economic entity, and the findings have been highly nuanced when immigrant groups are the focus of the study. My own work in the Malaysian-Bengali community (Mukherjee 2006; 2003), describes the social and cultural framework that promotes the sharing and exchange necessary to overcome the extreme race stratification in Malaysia and promote a sense of community within the larger Malaysian context. I would like to continue this established tradition of studying language use in small communities by combining the methodologies of ethnography and linguistics, and I would like to focus on the women in the Surinamese-Indian community in the Netherlands.

I believe this project is important for several reasons: First, one of the most vigorous and exciting arenas for linguistic change and innovation is within immigrant communities, and the Surinamese-Indian community is positioned within a multilingual Europe, within a continent still coming to terms with the racial tensions inherent in a multilingual population with cultural pluralism. As Europe wrestles with the problems of assimilation and integration of ethnic minorities, such detailed sociolinguistic studies serve to highlight the importance of culture and ethnic backgrounds in shaping practices and narratives.

Second, the role of women in language maintenance has always been an interesting issue and women are especially sensitive to the language question. Whether the woman marries within the community or outside of it, whether she has been born into the community or married into it, whether the language of her education alienates her from the language of her community, all become important factors in the expression of her identity. How the identities evolve for women in the Surinamese-Indian community, and how their roles play out in the larger Dutch society, would be very interesting to explore.

Finally, by developing a conceptual framework that is grounded in the everyday lives being studied, I will focus on narratives and practices that simultaneously draw upon and integrate the domains of cultural group and family. By explicating such hidden material I hope to unearth nuanced findings that may challenge assumptions about gender, language and societal roles.


  • Sociolinguistics
  • Gender and Migration

Country of origin


Period of stay at IIAS

15/08/2017 to 15/10/2017

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