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New by Arnulf von Scheliha and the Late Neville Alexander: Language Policy and the Promotion of Peace

Language policy and the promotion of peaceUnisa Press presents Language policy and the promotion of peace: African and European case studies, edited by Arnulf von Scheliha and the late Neville Alexander:

This book brings together the contributions of 12 scholars engaged in language activism, in research and in promoting peace. The writers are keenly attuned to the potentially genocidal consequences of language differences. In the articles they have written, they make compelling cases for indigenous non-hegemonic languages to be used and promoted, not only as a means of communication but to preserve the multilingual communities inhabiting the world. The book is a product of a collegial effort resulting from a symposium on Language Policy and the Promotion of Peace or the Prevention of Conflict, which was held at the University of Osnabrück, Germany, in 2011.

While many different “angles of vision”, positions, approaches and emphases are argued in the contributors’ commentaries and in their case studies, the 12 scholars and activists are united in their call for a multilingual global habitus. Alexander, the principal editor of this compilation, spent about 30 years studying and making policy proposals about the language question in South Africa. 11 languages are officially recognised by the post-apartheid government, and yet only two, English and Afrikaans, enjoy high-status functions in official communications. Alexander persistently called for mother-tongue instruction for children in their formative years of schooling. Sadly, this radical scholar and acknowledged sociologist of language died of lung cancer while he was working on this volume in 2012.

Co-editor Von Scheliha is professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Osnabrück. His main research topics are political ethics, interreligious hermeneutics, history of theology, and transformation of religion in pluralistic societies. He was the main organiser of the symposium that brought international scholars together to reflect on language policy and the promotion of peace, and that provided the wide-ranging “raw material” for this book.

About the editors

Neville Edward Alexander (22 October 1936 – 27 August 2012) was a major proponent of linguistic diversity and multilingualism. After his release in 1974 from political imprisonment on Robben Island, he carried out pioneering work in the field of language policy and planning in South Africa, contributing to the National Language Project, and becoming founder and director of the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA). In 1981, he was appointed Director of the South African Committee for Higher Education (SACHED) in Cape Town. He also made an influential contribution to the Language Plan Task Group (LANGTAG) process instituted in 1996. His prolific research output on language and education issues in South Africa is reflected in various academic journals and books. He has also written on socialism, and in 2003 published An ordinary country: Issues in the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa. In 2003, he was co-chair of the steering committee set up under the auspices of the African Union to found the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) as the official language policy and planning agency of the African Union; he afterwards served as a member on the board of ACALAN. In 2004, he cochaired another steering committee for the Implementation of the Language Plan of Action for Africa (ILPAA) in Yaoundé, Cameroon, with the goal of establishing a frame of reference for the assessment of government interventions in language infrastructure. In South Africa, he was awarded the Order of the Disa in 2004 in recognition of his long-term commitment to socio-political issues and education. In Barcelona in 2008, he won the Linguapax Prize for his contribution to linguistic diversity and multilingual education over more than 20 years.

Arnulf von Scheliha was born in 1961. Since 2003, he has been a full professor for Systematic Theology (Philosophy of Religion, Dogmatics, Ethics) at the Institute for Protestant Theology, University of Osnabrück, Germany. He is the scientific coordinator for the programme Visiting Chair for Peace and Global Justice and is a member of the board of the interdisciplinary Zentrum für Demokratie- und Friedenforschung (ZeDF) (Centre for Democracy and Peace Research) at the University of Osnabrück. His main research topics are political ethics (especially normative fundaments, European religious culture and ethics of peace), moral problems of modern lifestyle, interreligious hermeneutics (especially the relations between Christianity, Judaism and Islam), History of Theology in the 19th and 20th century in consideration of social history and the history of ideas and the transformation of religion in pluralistic societies.

Book details


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