Entanglements and Assemblages of English


  • Alastair Pennycook Emeritus Professor, Language, Society and Education, University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and Research Professor, Centre for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, University of Oslo, Norway https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4656-6187




assemblage,, entanglement,, English,, decoloniality


This paper takes up the concepts of entanglements and assemblages of English as a way to understand the multiple ways in which English is connected to, and part of, social, cultural, political, and material worlds. This way of thinking is more useful than approaches to English that focus primarily on the language in isolation (even if pluralized or diversified) or alternatively look at English as a mere reflection of already-defined relations of political economy. A backstreet sign for an English school in the Philippines, for example, suggests an assemblage of tangled wires, cheap English, desire, neoliberal goals, English frenzy, domestic workers, call centers, social stratifications, and unequal resources. Implications for looking at English in Bangladesh along similar lines will also be discussed. Developing the ideas of assemblages and entanglements, this paper argues that new approaches to materiality and the interconnectedness of things can take us forward in a search for alternative ways of thinking about the distribution of unequal linguistic resources. The paper concludes with a discussion of the possibilities of disentangling English.




How to Cite

Pennycook, A. (2022). Entanglements and Assemblages of English. Crossings: A Journal of English Studies, 13(1), 7–21. https://doi.org/10.59817/cjes.v13i1.14