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Monolingualism, In/Justice

MIC Distinguished Lecture Series /

The College of Arts and Sciences Sir Run Run Shaw Lecture Series


Date : Thursday, April 14
Time: 4PM
Location:  Wang Center Lecture Hall 2

This talk starts with a few premises, to be expanded upon in collaboration with listeners: a) that multilingualism is itself a primary and profound method for seeking justice in the real world, b) that monolingualism is an analytically and empirically deficient system for pursuing truth and justice, c) that monolingualism vastly predominates in the meting and envisioning of justice today, and d) that promising visions of multilingual justice are indeed beginning to emerge around us. Sadly, the models of multilingualism that predominate in the Global North have emphasized commerce and transparency at the expense of politics, precision of meaning, standpoint, and subjectivity—all of which are crucial for a just reckoning with the world. In 2021, we are witnessing a retrenchment into monolingualism, rather than the opening into the kinds of multilingual knowing and being that were foreseen in the 1990s. The talk will conclude with some practical strategies for countering and hospicing monolingualism in moments of social in/justice.

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David Gramling 

David Gramling

David Gramling is Professor and Chair of the Department Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies at University of British Columbia.  His major work includes The Invention of Multilingualism (Cambridge University Press 2021) and The Invention of Monolingualism (American Association for Applied Linguistics Book Award, 2018), Palliative Care Conversations: Clinical and Applied Linguistic Perspectives (co-author, De Gruyter 2019), Linguistic Disobedience: Restoring Power to Civic Language (co-author, Palgrave 2019) and Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration 1955–2005 (co-author, University of California Press 2007).