Call for Papers

ABSTRACTS of up to 250 words for 20 minute presentations are now invited, to be sent to Goodith White, Convenor, at: and cc no later no later than no later than February 15th 2019.  We also invite proposals for posters. As in previous years, it may be possible for a small number of people to deliver their papers via Skype from Africa.

Theme: Language and decolonization in Africa in the 21st century

The 2019 LiA meeting aims to bring together researchers to present and discuss current research on the role of language – at the levels of policy, planning, education, social practice and literature – in the long and complex process of cultural decolonisation in the African continent.

Given that “Colonialism altered entire peoples’ mentalities [and] alien cultural values became internalised […] into native consciousness” (Leow, 2016, p. 245), and that “intellectual and scientific dependency in Africa is virtually inseparable from linguistic dependency” (Mazrui, 2002, p. 276), the language question was central in newly independent African countries in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. This is the core argument in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s notion of “decolonising the mind” (1986). However, “While non-Western communities were busy working on one project (decolonisation), the carpet has been pulled from under their feet by another project (globalisation). It is as if one historical process got subsumed by another before the first process was complete” (Canagarajah, 2005, pp. 195-6). This made the task of promoting local languages as symbols of national identity and unity in Africa particularly difficult, as the important roles played by languages such as English or French was impossible to ignore. In addition, the languages of the former colonisers were often the only ones that would be equidistant from all ethnic and cultural groups within any given country, and so, paradoxically, they were also often viewed as more neutral than any other local language.

So the primary objective of the meeting is to explore what current research has to say on how languages in Africa are faring in the 21st century within the ongoing process of cultural decolonisation, as it is pulled by the competing forces of national identity, social equality, ethnic neutrality and globalisation.

Sub-Themes:- Topics for papers could consider (among other things):

  • What are the latest policy developments with regard to the tensions between former imperial languages and local languages in different African countries?
  • What are the issues and challenges in the adoption of local or global languages in education and academic research?
  • How do different languages co-exist in daily social practices, including digital communication?
  • How are languages used at work?
  • How has the debate evolved for the creation of literature, songs and films?

REGISTRATION: Please register by April 22nd  2019 so that we can make a final order for catering for the day. This is included in the attendance fee of £27 for BAAL members, £37 for non-members, £20 for BAAL student members (other students £22). We particularly welcome postgraduate students.  Register here  Enquiries to:  Colin Reily