SHESL-HTL conference 2012 – Interventionist linguistics Socio-political uses of knowledge about language and languages

26, 27 and 28 January 2012

Paris (Pôle des langues et civilisations, 65 rue des Grands Moulins, Paris 13e

The 2012 SHESL annual conference will be devoted to looking into the socio-political uses of knowledge about language and languages, within a historical and transcultural perspective.
The general objective of the conference is to explore the past and present relationship between the language sciences (the term is interpreted broadly) and the socio-political domain. This should lead us, on the one hand, to come up with an overview of the possible stakes of research on linguistic issues, and on the other, to reflect on the role of language theorists—researchers, experts, missionaries, citizens….—as language authorities : how do they behave in this role, do they refuse it, do they self-proclaim? More broadly, we shall question the relationship between knowledge about language and/or languages and socio-political intervention : are the language sciences more permeable to socio-political doctrine than other types of knowledge in the fields of the humanities and social sciences? Are they so in a different way?

Papers—four of which will be by invited speakers—will concern one of the four following thematic areas :

1) The language theorist as a social actor. As members of society, language documenters are affected by the social and political events of their time. How do they reconcile their dual status—as a social being on the one hand, and as an observer of social activity on the other? How have some linguists decided to use their work to further socio-political goals? Under what form can socio-political involvement affect one’s work on language and/or languages?

2) The language theorist who is assigned a socio-political agenda. As specialists, language theorists can be called upon to enable socio-political projects, whether or not they wish to. Some classic examples of this are work by missionaries, the promotion of some linguistic varieties over others, the work of the “language expert”.

3) The language theorist whose work is co-opted. Grammarians, linguists, lexicographers develop tools whose final form they do not fully control. Their work can indeed be co-opted and used for various unanticipated ends (social, political, religious, etc). How do they deal with such a take-over?

4) The manifestations of the different dimensions (theoretical, practical, social) of “knowledge constitutive interests” in the language sciences.

Under the supervision of Émilie Aussant (UMR 7597), Christian Puech (UMR 7597, Université Paris 3) and Irène Rosier-Catach (UMR 7597, EPHE).

Scientific committee : Sylvie Archaimbault, Sylvain Auroux, Émilie Aussant, Claude Blanckaert, Danielle Candel, Jean-Luc Chevillard, Bernard Colombat, Alan Davies, Jean-Marie Fournier, Daniele Gambarara, Jacqueline Léon, Tullio De Mauro, Francine Mazière, Christian Puech, Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn, Valérie Raby, Irène Rosier-Catach, Jürgen Trabant, Katia Velmezova.

Organisation committee : Sylvie Archaimbault, Émilie Aussant, Claude Blanckaert, Danielle Candel, Bernard Colombat, Jean-Marie Fournier, Jacqueline Léon, Francine Mazière, Christian Puech, Valérie Raby, Irène Rosier-Catach.

Société d'histoire et d'épistémologie des sciences du langage