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17:30 - 19:00 17 June 2014

A CREDOC Provocation: Civilisation and Language


Archaeology 612 | Institute of Archaeology (link Map)
University College London | 31-34 Gordon Square | London | WC1H 0PY | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: FREE
Ticketing: Open

Speaker information

Dr Stephen Colvin, University College London
Dr Lily Khan, University College London
Professor Bencie Woll, University College London
Professor Philip Jagger, SOAS

Literacy and writing (when linked to urbanism, economic specialisation and bureaucracy) have long been considered hallmarks of civilisation. We propose in this ‘provocation’ to unravel the basis of that assumption. We will ask instead: How are claims to superiority made by giving authority to one language over others? How do speakers of languages come to regard their own and others as superior or inferior? How is superiority claimed through writing, language classifications, and ethnic or racial categories based on language exclusions? Language expansion and spread are the most often cited signifiers of the dynamics of civilisation. Contemporary notions of dysfunctional language acquisition and use are, on the other hand, imbued with ideas of civilisational deficiency. The CREDOC provocation will also explore alternative images of the relationship between communication and civilisation.

Followed by drinks in Archaeology 609.


David Alabaster


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