Diversity, linguistics and domination: how linguistic theory can feed a kind of politics most linguists would oppose

History and Philosophy of the Language Sciences

Nick Riemer
University of Sydney & HTL, Université Paris-Diderot

Riemer illustration 1 Antonio Gramsci, a co-founder of the Italian Communist Party and one of the twentieth century’s most prominent intellectuals. Gramsci studied linguistics and wrote about linguistic topics throughout his life. ‘Study, because we’ll need all your intelligence’.

What connections might linguists’ professional activities have to politics? Most recently, the question has been posed by the collective self-dismissal of the Lingua board and the journal’s metamorphosis into the open-access Glossa – a welcome attempt to break the monopoly of profiteering multinationals over the dissemination of research. Initiatives like Glossa or Language Science Press are much-needed, and all too rare, instances of scholarly activism against the widespread ‘enclosure’ of knowledge characteristic of our age (Riemer forthcoming). As such, they are compatible with the ‘vague form of liberal progressiveness’ that Hutton (2001: 295) has identified as the ethos of contemporary linguistics. But how might other

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