Heritage and the Politics of Culture
This panel seeks to demonstrate the non-textual, embodied and performative aspect of language in the context of what we are calling post-disciplinary methodologies of research and analysis. Our point of departure is the symbol, sound and sensation that envelope the word in its context of use. How do humans speak with fish and think about fish in Eastern Indonesian seascapes? What can we learn from the Bengali diaspora’s recitations and singing sessions on the Andaman Islands? Can humor be used as a crucial prism to understand the sensorial associations of words in texts from Asia and Africa? How do old tapes travel and symbolize ever-changing heritage in Gao, Mali? How have object-lessons been used to sensorialize abstract words, concepts, and numbers in colonial pedagogies in South India? What do oral aspects of Old Khmer epigraphs in Cambodia tell us about language practices?
This panel brings scholars in dialogue around non-textual forms of language and the fluidity of oral linguistic practices to rethink disciplinary bound approaches to the word and language in general. Its design as a performative panel allows us to navigate through the nuances of reading, teaching, singing, narrating, announcing, reciting and chanting to demonstrate language as embodied practice and vehicle of knowledge transmission. As a further step, we explore the pedagogical potential of language-mediated practices towards decolonising academic practice.
During the first panel session, we present a selection of ethnographic and archival vignettes that illustrate the fluidity of language, language contact, and language practices from a variety of disciplinary approaches (such as history, linguistics, anthropology, philology), accumulating into a more holistic understanding of islands, marine environments, ancient texts, diaspora, and the classroom itself. The second panel session consists of a discussion with the audience to assess ongoing efforts to produce a Humanities across Borders syllabus draft, a reflexive article, and an illuminated video.