With utmost sorrow we announce today, 7 January 2021, the passing of Jan Blommaert, who less than a month ago, participated at the 2020 ECSPM Online Symposium that was hosted by the Babylon Centre for the Study of Superdiversity, of Tilburg University, which he founded and directed. He shared with us, the Symposium participants his position talk, “Old new media: how big issues reoccur whenever new media appear” and later discussed his ideas with us.

Jan Blommaert was born in Belgium in 1961 and received his PhD in African History and Philology from Ghent University in 1989. He was a Professor of Language, Culture and Globalization at Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

He was a prominent sociolinguist and linguistic anthropologist and contributed significantly to sociolinguistic globalization theory, focusing on patterns of the spread of languages, forms of literacy, and on new forms of inequality emerging from globalization processes. His work concentrates on analysing issues of power and social inequality in language and society under conditions of contemporary globalization, from a discourse analytical and ethnographic perspective – the emphasis being on the ethnographic study of inequality in society, and particularly how it relates to language use. His most recent publications include The Sociolinguistics of Globalization (2010) CUP and Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity (2013) Multilingual Matters.

Blommaert also wrote extensively in Dutch, addressing broader social and political issues in Belgian and Dutch society: nationalism, populism and democracy, asylum politics, issues in language and education, and essays on the sociology of work under neoliberalism.