International Mother Language Day 2022 at IAAW
by Prof. Dr. Nadja-Christina Schneider

International Mother Language Day was established by UNESCO in 1999 to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education. LIVING TOGETHER IN MULTILINGUAL SOCIETIES was the theme of this year's program at Humboldt-Universität’s Institute for Asian and African Studies (IAAW). Authoritarian nationalism and language politics, linguistic diversity & social cohesion, as well as the role of poetry and literature in protest movements, were three focal points of the event. International guests included renowned violinist Iskandar Widjaja (Germany/Indonesia), writer Meena Kandasamy (India), and the activist and diplomat Ronny Kareni (New Guinea/Australia), among others.

Link to the program homepage and panel descriptions: 

Welcome address by Nadja-Christina Schneider

What’s in a Sound?

Alexa Altmann, Jackline Wanjiru, Fanny Sigler, Ashley Looi & Sofia Paule

What’s in a Sound? is a collection of research projects by BA students of the Institute for Asian and African Studies (IAAW) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The works explore the intersections of sociolinguistics and sound studies and want to question the myriad ways in which we hear and exist through sound. Additional to theoretical and methodological knowledge, the students were also encouraged to experiment with sound and video editing.

Link to the online exhibition: 

Multilingual practices in a refugee camp (Lesbos, Greece)

Hadis Yakubi, Mehdi Darif & Nagehan Uskan

In our presentation, by including our first person stories, we will speak about the dynamics of communication between different communities in old Moria and in the actual Mavrovouni refugee camps in Lesbos Island on the border of Greece. We will discuss which are the obstacles of not having a common language and how people create different tools in order to overcome the segregation created by this and try to live together in a camp which is a common living space for people fleeing because of different reasons to Europe in search of a safe life. In addition to this, we will present a small dictionary of words commonly used by the actual residents of Mavrovouni camp.

Live Performance of the Song "Indonesia Pusaka" by Star Violinist Iskandar Widjaja

Iskandar Widjaja is a world-class violonist with Indonesian roots, a true virtuoso. He will interpret the Indonesia song
"Indonesia Pusaka" on his violine. This song is usually performed on festive occasions of Indonesia's Independence Day, and sung by a big chorus.

The Language and Politics of Exclusion: Public debates on LGBTIQ* people in Indonesia and Turkey

Wikke Jansen, Mehmet Keserli & Saskia Schäfer

In several countries across the globe, heterosexual norms have shifted to outright anti-queer rhetoric   and action in the form of violence and laws. We focus on the cases of Indonesia and Turkey, where the shift from growing visibility and increasingly vocal demands for LGBTIQ* rights to an atmosphere of aggression happened relatively suddenly in the 2010s and 20s. We analyse the actors behind this shift and ask how queer communities are countering these attempts to other them.

Expressing merdeka - talking language, identity and (artistic) activism in West Papua's liberation

Sydney Noemi Stein and guest Ronny Kareni

The island of New Guinea is the world’s most culturally and linguistically diverse place. More than 800 languages are spoken here, yet many face extinction. In the western part of the island, ever since invasion by Indonesia in 1962, West Papuans not only face threats to their indigenous languages, but also to their freedom and human rights. Together with Papuan musician, activist and diplomat Ronny Kareni, we want to discuss matters of forced acculturation, (neo-)colonialism and artistic forms of activism in West Papua’s battle for merdeka, freedom.

Protest Lyric: Poetry and Music in the Context of Indian Protest Movements

Fritzi-Marie Titzmann, Monika Freier & students: Emily Engler, Devina Khurana, Peggy Maeyer, Ngoc Lin Mai, Lila Miran

A multimedia presentation on poetic expressions of resistance in the Indian context. Different genres and examples of ‘viral’ poetry will be introduced.

Please find included protest songs via these links:

8:44 Hum Kaagaz Nahin Dikhayenge 2.0 - Varun Grover | Spoken Fest Mumbai'20


12:09 GIVE PEACE A CHANCE. (Ultimate Mix, 2020) - Plastic Ono Band (official music video HD)

15:24 "Aman Chahiye" - Give Peace A Chance | Ankur Tewari | UnErase Poetry

17:57 naqaab47 x Shoals - ANDOLAN

24:19 Azadi ( Dub Sharma) Video

Multilingualism on the ground: A round trip through Botswana

Linda Gerlach & Christfried Naumann

In our presentation we will take a closer look at multilingualism in Botswana by zooming into a variety of locations (big and small cities, rural areas, etc.). In doing so we will shortly introduce which languages and language families are involved and investigate what leads to these specific multilingual situations.

Please find included videos via these links:

19:20 (Master KG –Tshinada Feat. Khoisan Maxy and Makhadzi, Setswana + English + Venda, slide 18)

26:28 (Ndingo Johwa - Nkabaile; slide27, Ikalanga)

28:22 (Seperu folkdance and associated practices of the Kuhane community, slide 31, Chikuhane)

31:12 (Mambo Ntema – Na Tambora; slide 36, Thimbukushu)

39:07 (Phologolo – “Rema Africa“ Feat. Zakwe; slide 49)