The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society presents

A Public Lectures Series in Global Language Justice

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar

Linguistic diversity and sustainability: Global language justice inside the doughnut

Suzanne Romaine, University of Oxford Moderated by Lydia H. Liu

In this lecture Dr. Romaine proposes a doughnut as a model for thinking about the relationship between language and inequality in a linguistically diverse world and for explaining why language is the missing link in the global debate on sustainability, equity and poverty. By suggesting how human well-being can exist only within limits that are both social and ecological, the doughnut highlights the importance of addressing environmental sustainability and social justice together. Policies that discriminate against the languages of the marginalized poor severely compromise the power of global development agendas to improve their lives. The cross-cutting effects of linguistic diversity on all aspects of human welfare mean that global development agendas cannot reach the ‘bottom billion’ until they speak to them in their own languages. Changing the normative perspective to make room for global language justice inside the doughnut requires teasing out and understanding numerous complex linkages between language, poverty, education, health, gender, and the environment that have been rendered invisible by prevailing models and discourses of development. She will also identify some specific pathways and policies for sustaining linguistic diversity through explicit recognition of language as both a right and means of inclusive sustainable development.

Open to the public. First-come, first-seated.

To be followed by a faculty and graduate student seminar on Friday, January 26.

Image by Abel Tilahun