Language is a vital, but underexplored, factor in the lives of migrants, immigrants and refugees. It has a direct impact on the experiences and choices of individuals displaced by war, terror, or natural disasters and the decisions made by agents who provide (or fail to provide) relief, services, and status. Distilled through memory, it shapes the fictions, poems, memoirs, films and song lyrics in which migrants render loss and displacement, integration and discovery, the translation of history and culture, and the trials of identity.
This interdisciplinary, international symposium on Language and Migration will examine the role of language in the lives and works of migrants.
Part One (Thursday 7 May to Friday 8 May, New York) will consider how language affects the experiences of permanently or temporarily settled refugees and migrants, those in transit, and the larger population around them. Such groups vary by age and gender, literacy and educational attainment, culture and religion, and the political, economic and cultural contexts in which they seek to settle. They suffer from language problems, loss of language, and linguistic abuse – and their host populations are often linguistically unready to receive them, to attend to their basic needs, or to educate their children. Such linguistic problems are a major challenge to the agencies and NGOs involved.
Part Two (Friday 8 May to Saturday 9 May, Princeton University) will focus on memory in the cultural work of migrants and immigrants. On Friday evening the symposium will resume with a reading by eminent faculty novelists, followed on Saturday by a keynote address and a full-day session on memory, language, and migration. We particularly welcome papers addressing the literature, psychology, and ethnography of migration. To foster conversation across disciplinary borders, participants are strongly urged to attend both parts of the symposium.
Deadline for proposals: 1 November 2019
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