‘Interlingual Relations: The Global Politics of Linguistic Difference’
Call for participation in workshop
A workshop for PhD researchers on ‘interlingual relations’ is being organised through the PhD Seminar Series in IPS and led by Einar Wigen (Associate Professor, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Relations, University of Oslo). Co-hosted by the KCL International Relations and Ethics Research Theme, the workshop will be held on Thurday 16 January 2020, 13.00-17.00, Room 2.01 Bush House (SE), King’s College London.
In this workshop, Einar Wigen will give an introduction to how we may make sense of global politics in a polyglot world (see abstract below). After a Q&A session, participants will comment on each other’s work-in-progress. The workshop will consider the work of around six participants, circulated in advance, in the form of 5,000-word papers.
Please send abstracts for consideration to ips.phd.seminar(a)gmail.com before Monday 25 November 2019. Selected papers should then be submitted by Friday 6 January 2020 for circulation to participants in advance of the workshop.
If you would like to participate in the workshop without presenting a paper, please also email us at the above address. Places are free but limited and registration is required.
Any intellectual engagement across a linguistic boundary involves translation. Because no two languages are the same, meaning changes in translation. It may change in politically significant ways, and this change may be used strategically by actors involved. The politics of political difference is therefore important for understanding how claims to political legitimacy and negotiations take place across linguistic boundaries. In European nation-states, the ideal has been for linguistic and political communities to be co-extensive, in which case domestic politics would take place in the national language, and international politics would involve translating across linguistic difference. Reality is of course more complex, with some countries sharing languages and others using multiple languages also for domestic politics. But this complexity does not belie the need for taking interlinguality seriously. Elites in former British colonies may communicate with other such elites in English, but beyond the four main settler colonies, post-colonial elites need to translate, interpret or simply reformulate their political messages, not when conducting international relations, but when engaging domestic constituents who do not use English as their primary language. Although the post-colonial state-to-state interface is often monolingual, global political configurations as such are typically interlingual. While it may not seem that way when privileging relations in the Anglosphere, conducting international politics in a single language is more of an exception than a rule. Interlingual relations are everywhere to be found, and although the labour expended to maintain them is seldom rewarded, they may be called the unacknowledged core of international relations.