UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Decolonising Language Studies Symposium

25 May 2023, 4:00 pm–7:00 pm

Shadows of People

This symposium is organised by SSEES PROLang. Please note this event will take place in-person and will be livestreamed online.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to









Masaryk room
UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton street

This Symposium (’a convivial meeting for drinking, conversation, and intellectual entertainment’; OED s.v. ’symposium’) responds to current calls about decolonising the curriculum by fostering a transdisciplinary dialogue across linguistics, anthropology, literature, and cultural studies as well as the critical study of discourse, memory, and multilingualism. On this first occasion of a planned series of discussions and a conference in 2024, we explore the ways in which sociolinguistic ethnographic methods can contribute to re-grounding the study of language(s) conceptually in a way which renders the critical study of language to be an ancilla of critical area studies. By engaging in this discussion, we would like to bring the study of minoritized groups, linguistic citizenship, and transcultural becoming to the fore in language education. Our core questions include:

  • What can research in sociolinguistic ethnography offer to language learning in higher education settings and beyond?
  • How can language pedagogical practices informed by participatory ethnographic approaches and the study of minoritized languages contribute to our understanding of various forms of colonialisation?
  • What are the ways in which a community-based, participatory ethnographic re-thinking of the study of languages can boost the relevance of language studies for research in the humanities, social- and political sciences, and repurpose classrooms in higher education as pedagogical spaces for ethical action?
  • What is the impact of defensive v. pro-active responses to calls for decolonisation?

What makes this discussion on decolonising and transcultural becoming particularly timely for the region studied at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the School itself is the current need to engage with research on the region in contexts of violence – now again. Invited speakers from critical sociolinguistics and linguistics will respond to a position paper presented by the organisers, which will be followed by reflections from colleagues working in political anthropology, cultural and memory studies, and literature.

Organisers: Dr Jelena Ćalić (UCL SSEES and SELCS, Associate Professor in Serbo-Croatian (BCMS) and Applied Linguistics); Dr Eszter Tarsoly (UCL SSEES, Associate Professor in Hungarian and Applied Linguistics) on behalf of the PROLang (Policy, Research, and Outreach for Language-based area studies) Research Group

Invited speakers: Professor Ben Rampton (King’s College London), Professor Andrew Nevins and Diane Stoianov (UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences), Áine McAllister (UCL Institute of Education)

Invited discussants from UCL SSEES: Dr Uilleam Blacker (Associate Professor in Ukrainian and East European Culture), Dr Michal Murawski (Associate Professor in Anthropology), Dr Peter Zusi (UCL Vice-Dean for Research, Innovation, and Enterprise; Associate Professor of Czech and Comparative Literature)

Student contributors: Diane Stoianov, PhD student (UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences); students of East European languages at UCL SSEES and SELCS

Image credit: Ann H on Pexels