Language is a vital, but underexplored, factor in the lives of migrants, immigrants and refugees. It has a direct impact on the experiences and choices of individuals displaced by war, terror, or natural disasters and the decisions made by agents who provide (or fail to provide) relief, services, and status. Distilled through memory, it shapes the fictions, poems, memoirs, films and song lyrics in which migrants render loss and displacement, integration and discovery, the translation of history and culture, and the trials of identity.
This interdisciplinary symposium will convene humanists and social scientists, field-workers and policy-makers, artists and writers, to think together about migrants as resourceful users, interpreters, and creators of language.
The symposium will take place online between Monday, April 19 and Saturday May 1, 2021. Amid the disappointment of not being able to hold the symposium in person, we’ve managed to find two advantages to the virtual format: to enable participation by those without the means or time to attend, and to achieve a more satisfying exchange among humanists, social scientists, and people who work in the fields of education, language policy and language justice. We encourage you to attend as many sessions of the symposium as you can, which are spread out over two weeks to avoid zoom fatigue.
Special events: Our symposium will feature two keynote speakers: Prof. Sarah Dryden-Peterson of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who will open our symposium with a lecture on Monday April 19; and Prof. Viet Thanh Nguyen, Aerol Arnold Professor of English, University of Southern California, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer, who will give the closing lecture on Saturday, May 1.
On Friday evening, April 30 from 7:30-8:45 PM (ET), we are delighted to host a reading by Jhumpa Lahiri, Yiyun Li and Aleksandar Hemon, three distinguished members of Princeton’s Creative Writing faculty.
The symposium’s primary sponsors are the Migration Lab of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and the Study Group for Language and the United Nations. We’d like to acknowledge additional support from the Center for Applied Linguistics, the Esperantic Studies Foundation, the Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems, and Birkbeck, University of London. At Princeton, generous support has also come from the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Humanities Council, the Department of English, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of African American Studies, the University Center for Human Values, and the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication.