Call for Papers: BAAL Language in Africa (LIA) SIG Annual Meeting in collaboration with the Leeds University Centre for African Studies 15th May 2020, University of Leeds

Call for Papers

BAAL Language in Africa (LIA) SIG Annual Meeting in collaboration with the Leeds University Centre for African Studies

15th May 2020, University of Leeds

Keynote speaker & LUCAS Annual Lecturer:

Prof Musila

Professor Grace A. Musila, Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg

Grace A. Musila  is an Associate Professor in the African Literature Department at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She holds a PhD in African Literature from the same University. Her teaching and research centers on Eastern and Southern African literatures and popular cultures; and she has published in these areas. She is the editor of Wangari Maathai’s Registers of Freedom ( HSRC Press, 2020), author of A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder (Boydell & Brewer, 2015); and co-editor of Rethinking Eastern African Intellectual Landscapes (Africa World Press, 2012; with James Ogude and Dina Ligaga). She is favourably disposed to ideas, and the freedoms ideas afford or impede especially in women’s lives.

ABSTRACTS of up to 250 words for 20 minute presentations are now invited, to be sent to Dr Seraphin Kamdem, Convenor, at:  and cc Dr Colin Reilly no later than February 28th 2020. We also invite proposals for posters. As in previous years, it may be possible for a participants to deliver their papers via Skype from Africa.

Theme:African languages and social change: Politics, activism, and justice

The ways in which language can be used as a tool for social change intersect with political issues and other forms of social activism (such as gender equality, climate justice, and minority rights). This emerges at a variety of levels such as: how individuals organise themselves during action; how we understand and discuss key issues; and how struggles for justice can be effectively communicated at local, regional, national, and international levels.

The 2020 LIA Annual Meeting aims to bring together researchers to present and discuss current research on the role of language and languages – at the levels of policy, planning, education, social practice and literature – in contributing towards social change within Africa and the African diaspora.

Language can be used as a tool of oppression, to marginalise communities by repressing their languages. It can also be a powerful tool for liberation and positive change, to promote diversity and inclusion, to allow individuals and groups to be represented and share their experiences and voices. This conference will provide an opportunity to explore what determines whether language is used as a tool for oppression or liberation: concerns might include who is using language; how they are using it; and what language(s) are being used?

One salient area of discussion focusses on linguistic human rights. Ensuring that individuals and communities are given linguistic rights allows them to access and effectively engage with health services, legal services, education, economic opportunities, community and political activities. Denying these linguistic rights is discriminatory, and is fundamentally a human rights issue. In complex, multilingual contexts, how can individuals, groups and institutions secure and protect linguistic rights?

The primary objective of the meeting is to explore what current research has to say on how languages in Africa are entangled in the struggle between social change and oppression.

Sub-Themes:- Topics for papers could consider (among other things):

  • Language and human rights
  • Language and gender equality
  • Language and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Language activism and revitalisation
  • Language policy within institutions
  • Language and political rhetoric
  • Language and climate justice
  • Language rights and refugees
  • Language and cultural diversity
  • Language and socio-cultural integration in the diaspora
  • Language and decolonisation

REGISTRATION: Will open in early 2020.  Enquiries to:  Colin 

Download CFP Here

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