Columbia University has received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a two-year Sawyer Seminar on “Global Language Justice” at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. This new initiative takes language justice as the humanistic equivalent of environmental justice and responds with a sense of urgency to the simultaneity of the rapid dwindling of linguistic diversity and endangered biodiversity.

The seminar will address a range of issues including: the social effects of English monolingualism, the relationship of language and technology, the problem of translation across disciplinary divides, and new possibilities for revivifying language communities at the interface of arts activism, legal redress, and digital technologies. The two-year grant will thus enable ICLS to develop a cutting-edge program of research and pedagogical innovation at the interface of science, humanities, and big data.

The program will begin in Fall 2017 and continue through Spring 2019. It will be led by Lydia H. Liu (EALAC), Anupama Rao (History), Stathis Gourgouris (Classics), Brent H. Edwards (English), and Elizabeth A. Povinelli (Anthropology).

The seminar series will create a unique and lasting legacy around the pressing issue of language justice by incubating new graduate and undergraduate courses and developing new research directions for the humanities and social sciences.

The Mellon Foundation established Sawyer Seminars grants in 1994 to provide support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. The grant will support a series of open lectures and workshops during the two academic years, a post-doctoral position, and two graduate student pre-doctoral fellowships.

Collaborating on this project will be

Peter Connor (Director, Center for Translation Studies, Barnard College)

Susan Bernofsky (Director, Literary Translation, the School of the Arts)

Geraldine Downey (Director, Center for Justice at Columbia University)

Jesús Velasco (Chair, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures)

Rita Charon (Director, Program in Narrative Medicine, Medical School)

Bernard Harcourt (Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, Law School)

Isabelle Zaugg (Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Global Language Justice, Columbia University)

L. Maria Bo (Global Language Justice Graduate Fellow, PhD Candidate in English/ICLS, Columbia University)

Chloe Estep (Global Language Justice Graduate Fellow, PhD Candidate in EALAC/ICLS, Columbia University)

Atefeh Akbari Shahmirzadi (Global Language Justice Graduate Fellow, PhD Candidate in English/ICLS, Columbia University)