In the multilingual contexts of the Global South and in countries in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the continuous reinscription of the nation with a presumed single identity between the language and nation is fraud and problematic. Many of these nations celebrate a long tradition of rich multilingualism that cuts across communities and borders and extend historically and culturally to cover extensive geographical locations.

The proliferation of ethno-nationalism in South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East among other places has usually been accompanied with the use of languages as a divisive medium that ensures community borders along ethnic, religious and national lines.

While this panel does not assume multilingualism as a unifying factor and acknowledges the fractures between languages and speakers and that multilingualism inhabits hierarchical structures and practices, it pushes for the idea that multilingualism does not disappear under the attack of exclusivist language ideologies. Multilingualism defies these ideologies to enable linguistic, cultural and creative flow across various communities and groups. In fact, in situations of ethnic conflict, multilingualism needs to be actively fostered as a bridge between communities.


  • Professor Kim Cunio, ANU
  • Professor Francesca Orsini, SOAS, University of London
  • Professor Karima Laachir, ANU


  • Professor Peter Kornicki, University of Cambridge

Music and Poetry by Performers:

  • Professor Kim Cunio, ANU
  • Ms Heather Lee, Independant Soprano

This event is co-hosted by the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia), and the South Asia Research Institute.