MINELRES: CfP: The Government of Languages: Russians and Soviets in the face of Multilingualism, Moscow, March 11-13, 2008

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Thu Oct 11 15:53:06 2007

Original sender: Juliette Cadiot <Juliette.Cadiot@ehess.fr>

Call for Papers

The Government of Languages. Russians and Soviets in the face of

Workshop, Moscow, March 11-13, 2008

The attempts to regulate languages in their “russificating” as well as
language rights protection aspects are often treated in historiography,
with a few recent exceptions, as secondary, and illustrative of the more
general question of national identity construction and repression. The
techniques through which the State governs a multilingual population,
the way the latter reacts to it, do not appear as a proper object to the
historian. At best, they represent a domain of the history of
linguistics. Some problems of sources and methodologies partly explain
this deficiency. During our workshop, we would like to understand how to
build a political and social history of the administrative problem posed
by a society not only poorly literate but also multilingual. Seeking the
production of a cultural body unified around the Russian language, at
least during certain periods, the Imperial and Soviet regimes have also
tried to organize, preserve and remodel the great linguistic diversity
of their space. 

Our workshop intends to study in detail the processes of language
institutionalization by examining the reactions of Russian and Soviet
subjects (from resistance to appropriation), and the way those reactions
have influenced policies. We will try to see how inside the tribunals,
schools, all levels of administration, army and political police,
multilingualism has been taken into account and regulated. We will study
the practical and symbolic dimensions of the construction of national
language(s) by interrogating the utopias that any attempt at linguistic
regulation has as its horizon. Above all, we would like to show how much
this study refers to essential questions of Imperial and Soviet history:
national constructions and imperial model, social and territorial
integration (of the “peasants”, of the “peripheries”), development of
education and the race for modernization, the constitution of a public
domain and of a civil society, the recognition of national rights, the
functioning of State propaganda, the space allowed for Russian and
non-Russian nationalisms. 

The workshop will be organized around short presentations of papers that
will be distributed in advance to participants. Paper proposals are
sought within the following themes:

1. A “russificating” empire (1840-1917)? Russification, administration
and the constitution of a public space in a context of multilingualism.

- Russification in the different provinces of the West and East
- Russification in the conscripted army, at school
- The role of Churches
- Russification and Russian nationalism
- Resistances against russification

The Russian central administration developed policies of administrative
and legal unification, which also manifest themselves in the attempt to
constitute a unified linguistic space around Russian, recognized as the
State language in 1906. In the peripheries, the “russification”
manifested itself in a variety of school-related or religious measures,
not really seeking assimilation (except in Ukraine and Belarus) but much
more the formation of imperial elites. In this session, our concern will
be to confront the different projects of social integration and
political engineering that have language as their support.

2. From one regime to another (1905-1929). Languages, nationalism and
civil societies between the Empire, during independent periods and in
the Soviet Union.

- Nationalisms and literary languages
- Democratization and native languages.
- Language, the object of a right? Struggle for civic and linguistics
- National construction and languages institutionalization.
- Involvement of local intellectuals, purism and standardization

During the second half of the 19th century, the political project of
national reformists focuses on the evolution to modernity of the
peasants, who have just been freed from serfdom. The formalization of
language and the diffusion of written documents are thought of as
avenues of transformation, by integrating peasants to a less local space
than the one that defines the sphere of dialects, popular idioms and
oral civilizations. This willingness to fight against the scattering of
social spaces and to transform peasants into active and nationally
integrated subjects crosses discussions on language, less at the central
level than in the provinces. In this session, we will focus less on the
centre than on the regions, and especially on the cultural and political
struggles that sought the recognition of equality between languages and
of linguistic rights, and which unblocked in part with the Revolution.
We will put emphasis on the continuity of the projects and actors
between the end of the imperial period and the Soviet Union.

3. The centralized management of diversity. Linguistic rights,
administration and propaganda in the USSR. (1917-World War II)

- The management of equalization.
- Literacy and propaganda
- The creation of alphabets
- Purity and modernization of Russian and other languages

We will also study the impact of international linguistic rights
resolutions, as well as the influence of new linguistic methods on the
creation of alphabets. The programs of national elites, the ideas on
linguistic rights are reclaimed, reworked and integrated by the Soviet
government. The national languages, territorialized in the Republics and
the autonomous regions, become government languages. Their status is
guaranteed by the Constitution, which states that Soviet citizens
possess the right to correspond with the central power in the language
of their choice. We will be interested by the practical application of
that right. Very quickly, Soviet authorities seek to determine which
languages must be recognized and institutionalized and which ones should
be confined to strict private communication (vernacular). In the Soviet
Union, a delimitation of the areas of communication unfolds, which
corresponds to the usage spheres of the languages, while the location of
their diffusion defines the outlines of the hierarchical areas of the
public, regional and private domains.

4. A new “russification»? Strengthening of national languages, diglossy,
and the expansion of a model outside of the USSR (World War II-1980).

- Hierarchical organization of languages
- The situation of the Russian language and its teaching
- Repression of the peoples, end of linguistic rights and
- Extension of a multicultural model in Eastern Europe, the situation of
the Russian language in conquered territory inside the Communist Bloc.
- Development of new communication supports.

The hierarchical organization of languages defines the embedded
linguistic areas from the most integrative, Soviet Russian, to the
language of a Soviet Republic, to the one of national minorities. The
latter see some of their prerogatives disappear; only the guarantee of
an administrative territory, united or autonomous Republic or autonomous
region gives right to support from the centre. The thaw of Khrushchev
and the Brezhnev period are accompanied by a “russificating” component.
This new russification is still poorly studied, and it will be
complemented by the study of the diffusion of the Soviet multicultural
model outside of the frontiers of the USSR during the after-war period.
This period is finally characterized by the literacy and population
mixture movement, which leads to the dual phenomenon of the
strengthening of both Russian and regional languages, in a general
context of great upheaval in terms of communication supports.

5. The dislocation of the USSR and the new Russia

The return of movements making language claim during the “thaw” years,
but above all the dissident movement of the 70s leads to a
re-politicization of the linguistic question. We will analyse
perestroika, new regulations on languages and linguistic demands during
the mobilizations for independence in a same historic continuum.
Finally, we will study the very contemporary period, including the
distance between national minorities protection regulations (including
the Russian-speaking one) and the practices seeking to guarantee the
domination of the new national languages

- The situation of language rights in the nationalist movements of the
1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
- The differentiated situations of the Russian language in the ex-Soviet
- The teaching of national and regional languages in Russia.
- The new standardization of the old Soviet languages.
- The influence of international and European law.

The Program Committee invites proposals for original papers. We
particularly encourage submissions on recently archival collections.
Paper proposals (abstract of 750 words and CV) should be send in
English, Russian or French, via email, before November 15, 2007 and
final papers before January 30, 2008, to:

Juliette Cadiot,  EHESS, cadiot@ehess.fr, 33 6 66 98 30 71
Larisa Zakharova, Centre franco-russe en sciences humaines et sociales,
larisazakharova@gmail.com, 7 916 756 26 50

Centre d’etudes des mondes russes, est europeen et caucasien 
Centre franco-russe des sciences sociales et humaines
(CNRS-MAE. Moscou)
Agence National de la Recherche 
(ANR)- Centre National de Recherche Scientifique

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