[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] seeking panel participants

Gerald Roche gjroche at gmail.com
Sat Sep 16 07:13:54 UTC 2017

Dear all,

I'm currently seeking participants to join a panel at the Asian Borderlands
Research Network conference to be held in Bishkek in August 2018 (
https://asianborderlands.net/). Please see below for the panel abstract.

If you are interested in participating, please get in touch with me before
Sept 25th, so there will be sufficient time to organize a coherent proposal
before the submission deadline on October 2nd.

Gerald Roche

Language Revitalization in the Tibetospheric Borderlands

The Tibetosphere is a transnational linguistic and cultural region in the
heart of Asia, stretching across six countries: China, India, Pakistan,
Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. This region is defined by the central role
played by the written Tibetan language, as a script that is not only a
sacred medium within Tibetan Buddhism, but also, increasingly, the basis of
a ‘holy vernacular’ associated with a pan-Tibetan identity. Beyond Tibetan
and its unifying roles in the region however, the Tibetosphere is also a
linguistically diverse region; in all countries of the Tibetosphere,
Tibetan interacts with dominant state languages, as well as numerous
localized vernaculars. The Tibetosphere is therefore simultaneously a
powerful cultural and linguistic centre, and also a marginalized borderland
at the intersection of several states. The emerging dynamics of this
borderland linguistic ecology are highly complex. On the one hand, Tibetan
is minoritized in all countries of the Tibetosphere, in that it is plays
only a limited role within major social institutions and is dominated by
national languages. In this sense, Tibetan - its written and spoken forms -
can be considered endangered. On the other hand, however, Tibetan
increasingly plays a central role throughout the Tibetosphere, with its
prestige as a sacred language bolstering its role as an emerging
ethnonational vernacular. Thus, whilst also being endangered, Tibetan is
now placing pressure on, and even replacing, less prestigious spoken
vernaculars throughout the region. Language revitalization in the
borderlands of the Tibetosphere therefore refers to two related and
seemingly opposed processes. First of all, it refers to the revitalization
of Tibetan as a minoritized language: the struggle to maintain and develop
the written language while expanding it into new domains. Secondly, it
refers to the revitalization of other languages in the region, which is
often suppressed by struggles between Tibetan and dominant state languages.
In this context, this panel seeks to investigate the following questions.
What discourses of identity and belonging underlie the revitalization of
Tibetan in this transnational region? What international discourses and
institutions promote and empower the revitalization of Tibetan? To what
extent do these discourses promote the maintenance of the region’s
linguistic diversity through plurilingual identities and the fostering of
multilingual practices? What counter-discourses to pan-Tibetan monoglot
identity exist, if any? What parallels exist elsewhere within other Asian
borderlands, with Tibetan as both a minoritized and dominant language?
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