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01/18/2023 - 01/18/2023 | Hamburg

Hold Your Tongue: Towards a Comparative History of “Small Languages” in Southern Africa and Asia

World Order Narratives of the Global South (WONAGO) is a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and collectively led by Universität Hamburg (UHH) and the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). The project explores how and why narratives of world order would be articulated and communicated in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East during the Cold War and then in the years since its end too.

In postcolonial historiography of both Southern Africa and South Asia, the relationship between colonialism and language has predominantly come to be cast in a manner that privileges such African and Asian languages which command substantive constituencies running into millions. In putting together a comparative story of the often-overlooked “small languages” in these two locations over a period of almost ninety years, this lecture attempts to complicate the easy narrative of vernacularity in the Global South. It explores the political implications of the familial model in the European linguistic imagination, the unequal access to and the uneven imprints of print technology, and the halting histories of standardisation and institutionalisation in colonial frontiers. Attention is given not only to the varying textures of the discursive entwinement of the ethnological and the philological but also to the different ways in which the language question came to be bound up with the promise of representative government in late-colonial climates. Excavating the formation of “small languages” in this style, the lecture contends, allows us to rethink the possibilities of anticolonial histories outside the strictures of methodological nationalism.

Dr. Bodhisattva Kar (University of Cape Town)

Dr. Diana M. Natermann (Universität Hamburg)

Information on participating / attending:
Language: English

Attendance: Join this event either on-site or online. If you choose the online format, please do not forget to register.


01/18/2023 17:00 - 01/18/2023 18:30

Event venue:

Research Centre “Hamburg's (post-)colonial Legacy”, Rothenbaumchausse 34 (mezzanine level entry, on the left side next to Hamburg University Guest House) and online
20148 Hamburg

Target group:

Scientists and scholars, all interested persons

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Subject areas:

History / archaeology, Language / literature

Types of events:

Presentation / colloquium / lecture




Verena Schweiger


Fachabteilung Kommunikation

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