Friederike Lüpke

Chair of AfriStadi

Friederike Lüpke is professor of African studies and chair of AfriStadi, the Africa Research Forum for Social Sciences and Humanities, at the University of Helsinki. Her research on small-scale multilingualism extends to the question of how multilingual practices widespread in West Africa can serve as a model for more convivial multilingual societies in the Global North. 

Her research and teaching focus on the description and documentation of West African languages in their cultural contexts, with a focus on Mande and Atlantic languages. From a language-focused outlook, her lens shifted to the investigation of social, structural and educational aspects of multingualism over the past decade. Her research on rural multilingualism in Senegal has been central for the emerging inter-and multidisciplinary field of small-scale multilingualism studies. She has a longstanding interest in writing from a social perspective, especially regarding grassroots practices and writing choices in multilingual settings. This focus continues to inform action research related to her current research on the sociohistorical and linguistic aspects of small-scale multilingualism in village- and polity-based settings in Southern Senegal. Together with a local team of transribers, resesearchers and members of the association LILIEMA ("Language-independent literacies for inclusive education in multilingual areas") she is developing a repertoire-based literacy programm for highly multilingual situations.  

Beyond her disciplinary interests, epistemological questions are of great concern to her, in particular regarding the (post)colonial history of European African Studies. She is committed to mainstreaming African knowledge(s) as crucially contributing to theory formation and to the development of equitable research paradigms. 

Research interests

  • descriptive and documentary linguistics
  • small-scale multilingualism, rural multilingualism
  • multilingual education
  • West Africa; Senegal, Mali, Guinea
  • Atlantic languages, Baïnounk languages, Jalonke
Recent publications
Recent activities