[Lingtyp] CfP: Interdisciplinary symposium on the role of water transit points in past societies

Olesya Khanina olesya.khanina at gmail.com
Fri Mar 1 14:55:57 UTC 2019

Dear subscribers,
I would like to draw your attention to a conference I am co-organising with
fellow archeologists at University of Helsinki, see a call for papers
below. I am responsible for the linguistic part of the event, so please
feel free to write back to me in case you have any questions.
Best regards,

*Down by the water: Interdisciplinary symposium on the role of water
transit points in past societies*

*Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Helsinki, 6-8 November, 2019*

Waterways have been key factors in the development of societies from
prehistoric times to nowadays, particularly due to their role as vectors
for cultural interactions, material exchange, and transmission of
knowledge. The fluidity of these highways of transport and communications
is tightly linked to the presence of transit points: spaces with unique
geographical characteristics that acted as nodal points between different
communities. Transit points are thus defined as places of intense social
contacts, putting objects of physical geography into the domain of social
sciences and humanities.

The subject is challenging, as many activities that happen in the aquatic
spaces seldom leave substantial archaeological traces behind due to the
nature of the activities (for example, some actions take place on board
vessels), or the inaccessibility of the archaeological remains (for
example, submerged or silted spaces). In some instances, the location might
have been obscured by lack of remains, but the impact of those interactions
is visible in other ways, such as nautical technology or language exchanges.

Rivers are particularly relevant to language exchanges, as they have been
crucial in defining language contact areas in such diverse parts of the
world as Amazonia, Northern Europe, and Siberia, among others: in some
cases, riverside locations are known to be areas of linguistic similarity
resulting from long-term exchange relations between speakers of unrelated
languages or from a population spread along a river path. In other areas,
riverside locations can be areas of the most linguistic diversity if they
serve as a marketplace to which temporarily gather representatives of the
otherwise geographically distant language communities.

The complex nature of human exchanges in these kinds of locations have
resulted in the need to develop legal frameworks to mediate interactions,
many of which reflect the multiculturality and multi-legality of the actors
involved. Taking all this into account, an interdisciplinary perspective
with a focus on human-environment interactions is necessary. This sort of
approach can help set forth more nuanced theories regarding the relation
between social systems and their environment, using data obtained through
different disciplines such as iconography, law, computer modelling,
ethnography, geography, history, linguistics, environmental sciences, and
so on.

By engaging with interdisciplinary theoretical approaches like the maritime
cultural landscape, boat biographies, or language contact studies,
researchers will be able to recognize the impact of maritime or fluvial
cultures onto their social framework and bring a balance to the narratives
of the past in regions with amphibious landscapes.

This conference seeks to challenge the interaction between models and
particular case studies. To this aim, we would like to invite proposals
from scholars conducting research in different fields whose focus is human
activities in rivers, sea-river, and coastal transit points with a broad
geographic and chronological perspective. With this interdisciplinary
approach, we expect to demonstrate what can be achieved by changing the
research paradigm to one that fully embraces the nuances of the aquatic
world, and specially the intricate connection between water spaces and

Plenary speakers:
Himanshu Prabha Ray (Jawaharlal Nehru University),
Christoph Schäfer (University of Trier),
Rik Van Gijn (University of Zurich),
Crystal El Safadi (University of Southampton)

Suggested topics:

   - Port and harbour communities
   - Trade and economics at transit points
   - Human-environment interactions along waterways
   - Nautical technology and design: exchanges and group identity
   - Linguistic dispersal through waterways
   - Language contact and waterways
   - Multilingualism along major rivers

Prospective presenters are requested to submit an abstract in a .docx file

   - Title of the presentation
   - Name of the presenter
   - Email and affiliation
   - Abstract of no more than 250 words.
   - Keywords

Submission deadline: 30th of April 2019
Submissions should be made to: downbythewater68 at gmail.com
Further inquiries should be made to: Veronica Walker Vadillo at
veronica.walker at helsinki.fi

Organising committee:
Elisabeth Holmqvist-Sipilä, HCAS
Olesya Khanina, HCAS/ Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences
Emilia Mataix Ferrandiz, HCAS
Veronica Walker Vadillo, HCAS

Olesya Khanina
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies & Institute of Linguistics RAS

Upcoming conference I am co-organising:
'Typology of small-scale multilingualism' - Lyon, 15-17 April 2019:
'Down by the water' - Helsinki, 6-8 November 2019:
'Language contact in the circumpolar world' - Moscow, 24-26 October 2019
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