28 – 30 June | Cape Town, South Africa

Theme: Coloniality as Knowledge and Being: Experiences of and Responses to Power

The International Association of Colonial and Postcolonial Linguistics (IACPL) will hold its next conference virtually in conjunction with the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa, 28th–30th June 2021. The theme of the conference is Coloniality as Knowledge and Being: Experiences of and Responses to Power. We see coloniality as an experience that lives on “in the minds, lives, languages, dreams, imaginations, and epistemologies of modern subjects in Africa and the entire global South” (Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2013: 11). The theme acknowledges that, as lived reality, coloniality is experienced in at least three inter-related ways:

  1. in the subalternity and structural violence to which previously colonised peoples continue to be subjected as a consequence of power structures predicated on racial hierarchisation and consolidated in the political economy of the colonial era;
  2. in the projection of these power asymmetries into authorised definitions of knowledge as well as ratified modes of engagement with knowledge that rob colonised peoples of their intellectual sovereignty; and
  3. in the cultural erasure that attended the colonial negation of traditional identities and the modelling as well as the imposition of other identities which,as a spectacular testimony to the workings of symbolic violence, have in some cases now become assumed.

We invite analyses of enduring colonial power asymmetries, as well as responses to these asymmetries, in the two realms mentioned below as they are experienced especially but not exclusively through language and communication:

Knowledge: e.g. labelling and conceptualisations of epistemologies of the South and the North, language (policy) and epistemicide, epistemological access, gate-keeping politics in publishing, educational language policies and inequalities in knowledge production, constitution of knowledge about language in the global South, language in the constitution of knowledge about the global South, canonisation of literary and other performative aesthetics, etc.

Being: e.g. universalisation of a Eurocentric embodied cultural capital and habitus, language in interlocking systems of dehumanization, black as semiotics and the precarity of black alterity, semiotic technologies of invalidation and disadvantage, etc.

Contributions on the de/coloniality of knowledge or being, in academia and in society, may be made from within specialisations in linguistics, or from a range of other standpoints (e.g. cultural studies, anthropology, literature, psychology, education, philosophy, sociology, musicology, dramatic arts, media studies, etc.), especially as they intersect with language and communication. Relevant papers from these perspectives may thus be presented on topics related to the following thematic clusters, among others:

Cluster 1: De/coloniality, Southern Theory, Southern Epistemologies, Postcolonialism, Africanisation, etc.

Cluster 2: Language in the constitution and representation of subaltern knowledges, knowledge in historically marginalised languages,language and the regulation of (historical and contemporary) access to knowledge, etc.

Cluster 3: Microaggression, psychology of colonialism, acts of identity, language ideologies and attitudes, linguistic profiling, speech accommodation and convergence, etc.

Cluster4: Language policy and planning, multilingualism, literacy, language and development,etc.

Cluster 5: Grammars,orthographies, harmonisation, language contact, etc.

Cluster 6: (Foreign) language teaching, racialliteracy, recurriculation, production and consumption of educational materials, etc.

Cluster 7: Academic writing, citation practices, the manuscript review process, publishing, etc.

Cluster 8: Creative writing, literary criticism, translation, semioticremediation, lexico-grammar of de/coloniality in lyrics, figurative expressions, etc.

Cluster 9: Semiotics of spatial architecture, space in the creative imagination, linguistic/semiotic landscapes, semiotics of mobility, etc

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Contributions will be in the form of oral papers (20 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for discussion).

Format of abstracts: Title of paper; best cluster match (see list of themes); name, affiliation and email of author/s; 300 words, MS Word, Times New Roman, 12 points, 1.5 spacing;

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 10 November 2020

Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 8 January 2021

A subsequent announcement will provide information on confirmed plenary speakers, conference fee, accommodation and other logistics.



The conference is organised by the Department of Linguistics, University of the Western Cape, under the auspices of the International Association for Colonial and Postcolonial Linguistics (IACPL).

Local organising committee: Bassey Antia, Lynn Mafofo, Lorato Mokwena, Felix Banda