Languages and Environments Reading Group

Languages and Environments Reading Group
19 October 2021, 5.00pm - 6.00pm

Convened by Joseph Ford (IMLR), Kasia Mika (QMUL) and Nicola Thomas (Lancaster)

This reading group will explore environments across linguistic and disciplinary boundaries. We will meet online, once every two months.

Participants will be invited to reflect on tensions between – on the one hand – needing a lingua franca for such research and – on the other hand – valuing non-Anglophone terms, discourses, and cultures in ways that move beyond dominant linguistic hierarchies and colonising forces.

Matters for discussion will include: what would help to foreground the value of working across languages in the context of environmental concerns? What landmark environmental studies have occurred in languages other than English? What are some particularly inspiring collaborations about environmental matters involving multiple languages and disciplines? What could a multilingual and multidisciplinary approach to environmental issues achieve?

The organisers warmly welcome all interested in discussing approaches to languages and environments, and the languages of environmental research, including graduate students, early career academics, and activists and practitioners working outside of academia.

The first session will take place on Tuesday 19 Oct at 5pm BST. In this session, we will extend previous discussions of language, environment, and translation and take objects, broadly understood, as a starting point for a multilingual engagement with the environment. 
To this end, participants are invited to post an object which speaks a different language regarding the environment at the following link:

In our discussions, we will be building on earlier work by Mieke Bal in cultural analysis (see below) and visual and textual ‘object lessons’ (Schlereth 1992; Daston 2004), taking these to think about the many languages of the environment with heterogenous, diverse objects as our guide. 
Alongside the objects you post, you are invited to read the following short texts before the session.
  • Mieke Bal – “‘You Do What You Have to Do’.” 
  • Murat Aydemir – “A Reaction to the Früchtl/Bal Debate.” 

Please find these texts posted at the following link.

Please click on the Book Now button below to register for this first session taking place on Tuesday 19 Oct at 5pm BST.

Text for the next meeting taking place on 14 December will be made available in due course.  

Download guidance on participating in an online event.


Joe Ford
020 7862 8832