Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Language and Development Conference 2015 (& CFP)

The eleventh in a series of biennial Language and Development Conferences will be held in New Delhi, India on 18-20 November 2015, with the theme "Multilingualism and Development." Of the previous ten conferences, two have been held in Africa (2005 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa) and the other eight in various parts of Asia. Nevertheless, the conference topics seem as relevant to African realities as those in Asia and elsewhere.

In its own words, the conference series
... explores the role of language in development. It addresses the issues of world, national, second and minority languages and the role they play in economic, social and cultural development; language policy, conflict transformation, language rights and identity; communication, education and development and language pedagogy.
The current theme - Multilingualism and Development - begins with the simple observation that "Linguistic and cultural diversity is a fact of life in developing countries...," under which several subthemes and suggested topic areas (relevant for the call for papers - submissions due 26 June 2015 12 July 2015 - deadline extended) are outlined:
  • Multilingualism and the metropolis
    • The issues that might be addressed include but are not limited to the following:
    • Identifying and describing the linguistic implications of urbanisation
    • The benefits of linguistic hyperdiversity
    • Linguistic barriers experienced by migrant populations in urban contexts
    • How schools, health clinics and other government services cater for speakers of dozens of different languages in super-diverse urban contexts
    • The practice of MTB MLE - and the capacity of schools to provide it - in multilingual urban contexts
    • Social division as an unintended consequence of MTB MLE in multilingual contexts
    • Multilingualism in semi-urban and urban non-metropolitan contexts
  • Language, technology and multi-literacies
    • Digital media as threat or opportunity for minority languages
    • Digital media and non-Latin-based writing systems
    • The use of digital media at times of crisis and natural disasters, especially in multilingual societies
    • Digital media and language choice in education
    • Digital literacy, language and gender
  • Multilingualism, marginalisation and empowerment
    • The tension between ideas of ‘development’ and formal education systems
    • Educating girls and empowering women in multilingual societies
    • Endangered languages and endangered livelihoods
    • Language, identity and violence
    • The role of parents in multilingual contexts
    • Multilingualism in rural contexts, particularly in the context of accessing markets
    • Prospects for indigenous peoples and speakers of minority languages in multilingual nations
    • The roles of English in multilingual developing countries: empowering or marginalising?
    • Describing and responding to the phenomenon of low cost private English-medium schools catering to the economically marginalised
The attention to English among the possible issues is perhaps a function of the British Council's co-sponsorship, as well as the fact that English is one of the official languages of India (which is hosting this year's conference). No problem there, but it is notable the prominence of Britain in organization of many of the past conferences, and the absence of major donor countries like the US and France. UNESCO and the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) are listed among the co-sponsors of the 2013 event,  Germany's GTZ was a cosponsor of the 2011 conference, and several Australian organizations were involved in organizing some of the early conferences.


Hywel Coleman, Jakarta said...

Many thanks for mentioning our forthcoming conference here - that is extremely useful and much appreciated.

You are quite right to point out that so far only two of the ten conferences have taken place in Africa. Our 'grand plan' is that the conferences should alternate between Asia and Africa but we have not found it easy to identify bodies (government ministries, development agencies, etc) that are interested in hosting an event. If anybody reading this can suggest an African host for the 12th conference in 2017 please do contact us through our website www.langdevconferences.org.

As for the mention of English in the Call for Papers, this was not there in the original version. However, the panel of Indian ministries and NGOs advising us suggested that the phenomenon of parental demand for private so-called 'English medium' education, in response to dissatisfaction with government schools, should be raised. These schools are themselves often of very poor quality but the 'English medium' label seems to be irresistibly attractive. This is a problem across South Asia and in many other parts of the world. But it should be emphasised that this issue is by no means of central concern to the conference.

Hywel Coleman, academic adviser to the 11th Language & Development Conference

Don said...

Thank you Hywel (belatedly) for your comment and additional information. Not sure on which possible African venues to suggest. Maybe one possibility would be to consult with the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), a body of the African Union, in case they have some suggestions.