The seminar will offer an overview of the major sociolinguistic trends observed in the Oasis of Siwa. Situated in the Western Desert, Siwa Oasis hosts the unique Berber-speaking community of Egypt, that has been able to maintain its Siwi language and tradition until nowadays, also helped by the oasis peripheral location. However, the oasis population is not exclusively Berber-speaking anymore, but it includes Arabic speaking groups, coming from different parts of the country, who also maintain their native variety of Arabic as well as some of their customs. This presentation will present some dynamics of use of and the values attached to Arabic and Siwi in contemporary Siwa, explaining them in light of internal and external social, economic and political processes and phenomena.
Short biography of Valentina Serreli
She is a Junior Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. She graduated in Middle Eastern Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and she completed a jointly supervised PhD at the University of Sassari and the University of Aix-Marseille (IREMAM). Her doctoral research falls within the framework of Linguistic Anthropology: it offers a first description of the sociolinguistic situation in the Oasis of Siwa, based the observation of the community’s language practices and ideologies in context. She is currently working on the Arabic spoken in Siwa, within a Interactional Sociolinguistic framework. Her domains of research are Arabic sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and language attitudes and ideologies.