Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I have quite a few problems with the foundational discourses of 'rights', but nevertheless ...

(Press Release)

Call for Papers: Linguistic Anthropology

Call for Abstracts: FEL VIII - Linguistic Rights

The Foundation for Endangered Languages: Eighth Conference in cooperation with INSTITUT D'ESTUDIS CATALANS (UNESCO CHAIR) Barcelona, 1-3 October 2004


The Foundation for Endangered Languages' annual meeting comes back to Europe this year, specifically to Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, on Spain's eastern seaboard. The topic will be "endangered languages and linguistic rights", addressed both through reports on actual experience, and through prescriptions for policy. All approaches will be welcome, but three aspects of this vast field are especially suggested for discussion:

1) The politics of language from the grass-roots activity to political institutions at all levels: how are linguistic rights acknowledged and, where necessary, enforced? How can communities act to defend them?
2) The interplay of the global and the local in linguistic rights - international, national and local: how are identities being
redefined in post-nationist discourses?
3) Endangered languages and linguistic rights crossing borders: what rights can be asserted and duties accepted in diaspora situations, in divided language communities and where languages are spoken by migrant groups?

Some view language politics and language policy simultaneously from the bottom up and the top down. Language communities' struggle for rights may take different forms and pursue different goals. What claims are the communities making? What are the goals of grass-roots action? To what extent can one language community take advantage of another's goals and methods? Can any effective language policies be developed top-down? How do such policies affect the acknowledgement and enforcement of linguistic rights, from bare toleration up to strong promotion of endangered languages? Is positive discrimination necessary in order to achieve equality among languages in a community? Where language revitalization programs are in progress, how are duties shared among speaker communities and political powers? Is there any way to assess language policies / language revitalization programmes and their effectiveness?

In a world with ever heightened communications, the interplay between the local and the global is increasingly complex. We need to analyse the status of endangered languages with respect to linguistic rights and politics, which now extend beyond the nation to supranational and global organizations. How relevant, for example, are international measures and recommendations, such as UNESCO's Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2002), Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage (1998) and proposal for a "Convention sur la diversité culturelle" (2003)?

Most endangered languages and communities are enclaves within the limits of a state. Others, however, spread across political and other boundaries. Borders may be considered as either barriers or opportunities. We shall focus on the causes and consequences of these situations:
How does this cross-border situation affect people's linguistic rights?
What kind of policies are favoured by governments towards such divided language communities?
What kind of international agreements have been / may be developed to manage the issue?
What happens when the linguistic situation is uneven across a community, with differing rates of language shift or language revitalization?

One social effect of globalization is an increase in migration. This poses other issues:
What are the rights of diaspora and migrant communities?
What are the rights and duties of immigrants in their host country?
What are the rights of nomadic people?

Abstract Submission

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words. They should be submitted in two ways: by electronic submission and also on paper. They will be accepted in English and Catalan.

1) Electronic submission: Electronic submission (by 19 March 2004) should be as attachment in Word or format in email message to Please fill in the subject domain as follows: FEL_Abstract

2) Paper abstracts: Three copies should be sent (by 19 March 2004) to:

Dr. Joan A. Argenter
C tedra UNESCO de LlengŸes i Educaci—
VIII FEL Conference
Institut d'Estudis Catalans
Carrer del Carme, 47
E-08001 Barcelona
Catalonia, Spain

This should have a clear short title, but should not bear anything to identify the author(s).

On a separate sheet, enclosed in an envelope, please include the following information:

NAME : Names of the author(s)
TITLE: Title of the paper
EMAIL: Email address of the first author, if any
ADDRESS: Postal address of the first author
TEL: Telephone number of the first author, if any
FAX: Fax number of the first author, if any

The name of the first author will be used in all correspondence. If possible, please also send an e-mail to Joan A. Argenter informing him of the hard copy submission. This is in case the hard copy does not reach its destination. This e-mail should contain the information specified in the above section.

Oral presentations will last twenty minutes each, with a further ten minutes for discussion. Plenary lectures will last forty-five minutes each. Authors will be expected to submit a written paper with the full version of the lecture for publication in the proceedings well in advance of the conference.

Important Dates

· Abstract submission deadline 19 March 2004
· Committee's decision 12 April 2004
· In case of acceptance, the full paper should be sent before 18 June 2004. (Further details on the format of text will be specified to the authors)
· Conference 1-3 October 2004