SIG 3: Multilingualism and multiculturalism

The Politics and the Aesthetics of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in a Globalized World

After centuries during which multilingualism was the privilege of an educated elite, after an era in which multiculturalism was the sign of a liberal cosmopolitan intelligentsia, and, more recently, after decades in which multilingualism and multiculturalism were considered as models of political, economic and ethical integration, they have become questioned and sometimes attacked as economically irrelevant and politically dangerous. A number of countries in Europe, but also around the world, have become more restrictive in their approaches to these subjects, and there has been a definite reaction against the decades in which the "multi" factors were seen as a sign of progress and as beautiful.

The purpose of this Special Interest Group is to examine the values of multilingualism and multiculturalism in our days to define its new goals and objectives. On the one hand, the SIG will seek to identify what has changed in the populations' and governments' attitudes toward multilingualism and multiculturalism, on the other hand, the SIG will seek to propose new avenues of development, suggesting that they are not trends of the past, but really necessary for the future.

Among the questions that the SIG wishes to address is the positioning of multilingualism and multiculturalism against the mono-linguistic trends. The SIG also wishes to reflect on the issue of the diversity of language and culture and its relation to technology. Indeed, in a world of digital humanities, of instantaneous translation, and other devices, resorting to multi-linguistic capabilities may appear as a useless luxury. The SIG also wishes to interrogate these questions from an economic and political point of view. Migratory fluxes have been changing and the challenges of multiculturalism and multilingualism have changed accordingly. The SIG wishes to propose ways in which linguistic and cultural difference can and indeed should be ways of preparing the future of societies on a global scale.

The group had an initial meeting in Brussels in December 2014 and has gradually developed a network of correspondents. Further contacts were established in Lausanne in the spring of 2015. The SIG will present its first work in Berlin in November 2015. In the meantime, correspondents will work by email and video conference. A possible meeting in Brussels has been envisaged mid-September 2015.

To participate in the SIG and for any further information, please contact the convener of the group.

Prof. Boris Vejdovsky (Université de Lausanne): Boris.Vejdovsky@unil.ch