Linguistics in a transforming South Africa: perspectives on curriculum, research and disciplinary practice

20 January 2016 -22 January 2016 @ 09:00 - 16:30


January 20, 2016
09:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Rhodes University: Environmental Learning Research Center (
Event Type:


Mark de Vos & Sally Hunt
046 603 7418
Email: &

LSSA/LSVSA                                        SAALA

 Some of these issues have been highlighted by more inclusive student demographics, by popular movements (both within higher education and in society more broadly), calls for rethinking the role of language in HE and calls for decolonizing HE.   While South African institutions of Higher Education have been transforming during the past 21 years of democracy (and before), recent political developments have brought many of these issues to the fore and have contested narratives of transformation, inclusivity and change.    Equally, there may be the possibility of threats to the transformational project, both from reactionary special-interest groups on left and right as well as from the imperative of the state to cater to the needs of economic development.  Against this backdrop, it is appropriate for Linguists to proactively articulate the role and relevance of linguistics and the linguistic sub-disciplines within a transforming South Africa.  The Linguistics Society of Southern Africa and the South African Applied Linguistics Association will host the first summit of linguists to discuss these issues.  

Transformation Workshop Application

Format & Issues to be discussed

Issues will be discussed in a collegial atmosphere with the intention of identifying our challenges, learning from each other and supporting each other as we transform the disciplinary practice of linguistics.  We will not presuppose any particular transformational ideology other than that transformation must be deep and meaningful and is a prerequisite for a free, equal and democratic society that can meet the aspirations of the nation.  Indeed, one of the goals of the meeting will be to engage with different ideas about and conceptions of transformation.   The format will consist of a few selected “thought pieces”, followed by discussions and breakaways into subcommittees.    Issues for discussion may include:

  • The importance and relevance of linguistics curricula to a changing South Africa
  • What transformation means in different departmental contexts
  • Transformation of the student body
  • Transformation of linguistics curricula (broadly construed as including content, assessment, outcomes, pedagogy etc.)
  • Transformation of linguistic research practice
  • The role of “Southern Theory” and its relation to “Northern Theory”  within linguistics
  • Increasing the diversity of languages and voices within linguistics curricula
  • Challenges and opportunities for linguistics disciplinary practice.

Intended outcome

  • We hope that the Summit will initiate a space for frank and considered discussion of transformational issues that will set the agenda for the next 5 years.
  • We hope that after sustained engagement around linguistic curricula and practices, we will be able to produce a manifesto on transforming the linguistic disciplines in South Africa.  We hope that it will form the basis of long-term transformative engagement within and between linguistic departments.

Who may attend?

There is no intention to exclude any significant role players.  However, costs are a factor and so participation will of necessity be limited.

  • It is requested that all departments of linguistics (and or cognate departments that have linguistics sections and/or who self-identify as linguists) send a representative to the Summit.   The aim is for the summit to be as representative as possible of linguistics curricula offered in Southern Africa.  
  • Other interested parties or interest groups may apply at the discretion of the societies.


The Summit will be run at cost and not for profit.  The Summit will be sponsored by the LSSA and SAALA and registration costs will be kept to a minimum.   However, the societies cannot fund the entire event and so we request that:

  • LSSA and SAALA will cover the costs of venue and materials.
  • Registration costs will not be charged for the first delegate from each department.  Subsequent delegates will be asked to pay a registration fee of R1000.
  • If you are not able to access funds to attend, the societies may be in a position to subsidise your costs on a case by case basis.  You are welcome to email one of the chairs in this regard.
  • If you can assist with fund-raising, please do (e.g. through a donation from your university, research school etc.). You are welcome to email either Sally Hunt or Mark de Vos in this regard.

 More information will be posted on the following website as it becomes available:


The venue for the workshop will be the Environmental Learning Research Center.

Directions from P.E
From the N2, take the Grahamstown turnoff to the left.
This is Grey Street (which becomes Beaufort Street).
At the first traffic light, turn left into Somerset Street.
Just over 100m down the road, you will see the sign for Rhodes University Administration, Eden Grove.
At the sign, turn left into Lucas Avenue.
You may wish to park in the first parking lot on your left (the only public parking available in this area of the campus)
The Environmental Learning Research Centre is located just behind the Eden Grove Student Bureau, and between the botanical gardens and Alumni House.

Here it is on Google Maps


LSSA/LSVSA                                        SAALA


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