English Linguistic Imperialism from Below: Moral Aspiration and Social Mobility
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Imperialism may be over, but the political, economic and cultural subjugation of social life through English has only intensified. This book demonstrates how English has been newly constituted as a dominant language in post-market reform India through the fervent aspirations of non-elites and the zealous reforms of English Language Teaching experts. The most recent spread of English in India has been through low-fee private schools, which are perceived as dubious yet efficient. The book is an ethnography of mothering at one such low-fee private school and its neighboring state-funded school. It demonstrates that political economic transitions, experienced as radical social mobility, fuelled intense desire for English schooling. Rather than English schooling leading to social mobility, new experiences of mobility necessitated English schooling. At the same time, experts have responded to the unanticipated spread of English by transforming it from a second language to a first language, and earlier hierarchies have been produced anew as access to English democratized.