Transmission of cultural codes through language: Study of Gujarati Diaspora in Lisbon, Portugal

Author:   Ratna Bharati B
Publisher:   GRFDT
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“Through all its verbal and non–verbal aspects, language embodies cultural reality. (Kramsch 1998).”
Migration entails a combination of several socio-cultural and economic situations that enmesh to form a migrant’s identity. In an attempt to trace and reconnect to one’s roots to develop a sense of the diasporic self, the struggles of identity, location of the home and a sense of need to belong surfaces (Safran 1991). One mode of remaining connected with the homeland is through language. The aim of this research is to provide an insight into how the concept of India and ‘Indian-ness’ is built among the youngest generation of Gujarati Hindu diaspora in Lisbon, Portugal through the learning of the Gujarati language. The process of creating, maintaining and accepting the Indian identity involves the intertwining of nationality and identity which are layered in the transmission of cultural codes like language which in turn affect the concept of identity in diaspora. The study conducted through in-depth interviews in the Gujarati language classes held at Radha Krishna Temple, Lumiar, in Lisbon elaborates the subtlety of this transfer and embodiment of cultural codes among the members of the Gujarati diaspora. The Gujarati language classes highlight the endeavour of the Gujarati Diaspora as a whole to retain and continuously reconnect with the ‘Indian’ identity through language.
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