Zurich Conference on Postcolonial Language Studies – Changes and Challenges

June 4-6, 2018

In postcolonial communities, both colonial history and the experience of decolonization shape cultural norms, transmission of knowledge, and communicative practices. While forces of social change, such as colonialism, globalization, or Americanization, threaten to weaken community ties and endanger linguistic diversity (e.g. Harrison 2007; Edwards 2010), marginalized communities have shown resistance and emancipation by adapting and appropriating new forms of communication and enriching local practices (Mufwene 2008). This has challenged earlier scholarly approaches to postcolonial communities as well as current linguistic scholarship, which seems to limit itself to traditional analytic approaches that are insufficient to fully grasp the linguistic outcomes of these social forces.

This conference aims at bringing together researchers working on all aspects of language use and linguistic practices in colonial and postcolonial settings. Our goal is to explore, describe, and better understand how changing social conditions shape linguistic practices in colonial and postcolonial contexts. In so doing, we want to critically evaluate a number of basic, perhaps Eurocentric, assumptions, such as the loss of linguistic diversity, or the role of the researcher as an active agent within the context in which they work.

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Martin Mühlheim