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Multilingual Practices, Education, and Identity in Pune, India Open Access

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This dissertation tells a story from the points of view of students, parents, educators, artists, and activist interlocutors of the contemporary educational and linguistic context of Pune, a mid-sized urban city in the state of Maharashtra in India. In relation to language use in education, this study reveals the ways in which middle class residents assign meanings and values to Marathi (the regional language of Maharashtra), Hindi, and English, their use, and how middle-class and largely upper caste urban Indian residents use languages as markers of aspects of their identities to shape understandings of the city and aspirations. The project views social change through the lens of linguistic repertoires in and around education through an analysis of language use in Pune, captured through ethnographic methods such as participant observation and structures/unstructured interviews. Implicit questions that undergird this collection of chapters is to discern the boundaries of languages and the relevance of mother tongues in India today. With a focus on the contemporary urban, middle-class and upper caste Indian linguistic context this is an ethnography through the lens of language use in and about education and educational institutions. The data and analysis address contribute to ongoing debates of the implications, benefits, and compromises made in different language mediums of education in multilingual, postcolonial societies in today’s world and nuances the role of English in processes of language shift. More generally, I address topics from a grass-roots level from parents and students and teachers in their classrooms rather than from a top-down approach through educational policy and administration to present a picture of contemporary mother tongue or regional language use in India.

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