CMLR: Social Living in Colonial Languages: Environments for Cultural Justice and Intercultural Dialogue

CMLR: Social Living in Colonial Languages: Environments for Cultural Justice and Intercultural Dialogue

This is a past event

Join Alison Phipps and Tawona Sithole for the Centre for Modern Languages Research's inaugural lecture at the University of Aberdeen!

These are not easy days for the uneasy and often fraught legacies of detailed, critical study of dominant, and colonial languages. Language hegemony and material dominance resulting from imperial projects which are by no means clear cut or over, leave linguists in a permanent double bind. These aspects are addressed clearly in ‘modern’ languages by Gramling and theoretically by thinkers such as Spivak and Santos and Mbembe (Gramling, 2016, Gramling, 2021, Spivak, 2012, Santos, 2014, Phipps, 2022, Phipps, 2019). They have also been an enduring element in my own work for 30 years, taking different critical forms. If languages are part of the archive of the world (Mbembe, 2021)and archiving practices require a radical deconstruction (Harris, 2021)then the varieties of practice of hospitality and hostility and the creative ways in which norms of pedagogy and research can be upended are critical to the imagined futures of ‘modern’ languages research. UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Language, for example, offers a direct challenge to the raison d’être for the research projects of modern languages, regardless of their post decolonial work which is important and enduring. How might a pause be inserted? How can wider non-modern or anti-modern language be part of the critical intercultural dialogue required, if enabling environments for linguistic peace are to (continue to) be part of modern language research and education.

In 2022, as the Centre for Modern Languages Research launches officially at Aberdeen University, this lecture will offer some questions and potential ways for considering what our ‘social living’ Ingold’s (Ingold, 2013) own description of the task of learning and education, might look like in future, drawing directly on the work of languaging in communities in low to middle income countries and in Scotland with those seeking asylum and granted refugee status.


GRAMLING, D. 2016. The Invention of Monolingualism, New York and London, Bloomsbury.

GRAMLING, D. 2021. The Invention of Multilingualism. In: GRAMLING, D. (ed.) The Invention of Multilingualism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

HARRIS, V. 2021. Ghosts of Archive:

Deconstructive Intersectionality and Praxis, London & New York, Routledge.

INGOLD, T. 2013. Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture, London, Routledge.

MBEMBE, A. 2021. Transformer les savoirs UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs 30th anniversary conference. UNESCO.

PHIPPS, A. 2019. Decolonising Multilingualism: Struggles to Decreate, Bristol, Multilingual Matters.

PHIPPS, A. 2022. Decolonising Languages in Rural Settings: Towards Equatorial Epistemologies. In: AYERS BENNETT, W. F., LINDA (ed.) Multilingualism and Identity: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

SANTOS, B. D. S. 2014. Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide, London & New York, Routledge.

SPIVAK, G. 2012. An Aesthetic Education in an Era of Glovalization, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

Alison Phipps
Hosted by
Centre for Modern Languages Research
MacRobert Building MR613

This event will take place in-person in MacRobert MR613 and online via Microsoft Teams. Please use the link to sign up to attend online.