CfP Language, Power and Identity in Asia: Creating and Crossing Language Boundaries - deadline 16 May 2015

The International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands, is hosting an international conference to explore the interrelations between language, power and identity in Asia.

Organised by the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden, The Netherlands, in collaboration with LeidenGlobal and the Language Museum (Leiden).

Conference dates: 14-16 March 2016

Venue: National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, The Netherlands

The International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands, is hosting an international conference to explore the interrelations between language, power and identity in Asia. Participants are invited to submit a paper to address aspects of this topic, with a particular emphasis on Asia, but papers that illustrate the subject from other parts of the world are also welcome.

The conference explores how linguistic differences, practices, texts and performances are of critical importance to political, social and intellectual power structures among communities in the past and in the present, especially through processes of identity formation. How do (and how did) languages shape borders - social, ethnic, religious, or “national”? Likewise, how do languages and linguistic communities move across these limits? In what ways do processes of hybridisation and multilingualism affect the formation of transnational or translocal identities, and how have they done so in the past? How have policies of language standardisation impacted on the political and intellectual spheres? What is the power of orality and performance vis-à-vis a variety of textual productions, through manuscript culture, epigraphical practices, print media, and the Internet?

Submission details
The organisers invite proposals for individual presentations of twenty minutes in length (excluding discussion), or panel discussions of three to four speakers, totalling ninety minutes. Proposals should be submitted before 16 May 2015. For individual presentations, abstracts of 300 words maximum and a short author biography (including institutional affiliation) are required. Proposals for full panel discussions should be accompanied by a brief introduction to the topic of the panel (max. 300 words) and the names and backgrounds of three to four speakers. An academic committee will select and group the individual proposals into separate panels. Those who submit an individual or panel proposal will hear by 16 July at the latest whether their proposal has been accepted.

To submit an individual or panel proposal, please use the form available on our website

About the conference
Asia today, as in the past, is home to a great linguistic diversity. Language continues to be a powerful factor in both solidifying and challenging cultural, religious, social, and political boundaries - whether through the building or deconstructing of political affiliations, systems of standardisation, the dissemination of inscribed texts, printed media, or oral performances. The conference aims to explore language policies that impact related speech communities separated by national borders – such as the Pashtun and Malay – and the role of policies and legislation in identity formation, and relates this back to lived realities of modern multilingual states, such as India, Indonesia and China. The conference will also address the position of small-scale linguistic communities within the large empires of the past and nation-states of the present, and within a rapidly globalising world. The conference will explore the role of modern, global languages such as English and Mandarin, and of high-status literary and liturgical languages such as Sanskrit and (standard) Arabic in innovative and interconnected ways.

Participants in this interdisciplinary conference are invited to address these and other subjects pertaining to the interrelations between language, power, and identity in pre-modern and contemporary Western, Central, South, Southeast and East Asia. Academics working from a wide range of disciplines, including philology and literary studies, linguistics, cultural and media studies, history, anthropology, archaeology, epigraphy, and sociology are encouraged to submit abstracts.

We encourage the submission of panels and papers that address a specific theme, as well as ones that cut across thematic boundaries. Proposals that seek to draw comparisons across world regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East or Latin America), are also welcome. Projects that promise to open new methodological approaches to the study of language by cross-disciplinary foci such as language policies and the nation-state, endangered languages and communal cultural identity, and the spread and impact of (minority) languages worldwide are particularly welcome.

This conference is also open to postgraduate research students.

Conference organisation
The three-day conference will include plenary and parallel thematic sessions. Keynote speakers will address the terms of the conference in plenary sessions, and introduce specific themes that will be further discussed in parallel sessions. Paper presenters will have twenty minutes for their presentation, followed by discussion.

The registration fee includes coffee breaks, lunches, a dinner on 14 March and a conference package.

Early bird (1 December 2015): € 100; Regular (15 February 2016): € 125; On-site: € 150

(PhD) students:
Early bird (1 December 2015): € 50; Regular (15 February 2016): € 75; On-site: € 100

Financial support
Participants are expected to pay their own travel and accommodation expenses. Very limited financial support may be made available to specific scholars residing in Asia and to some junior or low-income scholars in other parts of the world. If you would like to be considered for a grant, please include your motivation for the request in the grant application field on the proposal form. Requests for funding received after 16 May will not be taken into consideration.

Organising team
Dr Tom Hoogervorst (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, Leiden); Prof. Maarten Mous (Leiden University Centre for Linguistics), Dr Philippe Peycam (director IIAS), Dr Dick Smakman (Leiden University Centre for Linguistics); Prof. Mark Turin (First Nations and Endangered Languages Program, University of British Columbia), and Dr Willem Vogelsang (IIAS).

From 14 Mar 2016
Until 16 Mar 2016
Leiden, the Netherlands
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