Challenging Anti-Pluralist Policies
Depending on the language policies - and cultural policies in a broader sense - the reality of linguistic diversity or plurality, which prevails at different rates for every region and country of the world, may sometimes be recognized and even praised or denied in other places. Sometimes it is recognized but considered as an obstacle or a danger to ‘unity and togetherness’.
In the Western world in the nineteenth century - and the whole world in the twentieth century - it is the diversity/plurality itself that is at risk because of the denial and assimilation policies pursued by the nation-states seeking monolingual policies (generally as part of the more general anti-pluralist policies). “Over the past few decades, empirical studies about this diversity itself, or of one and several languages that are part of it, and the struggle for the survival and development of these languages have become the most critical issues in world history”, says Prof. Bülent Bilmez of Bilgi University in Istanbul.
Although there is enormous accumulation formed in this regard worldwide, in countries like Turkey where anti-pluralist policies have been prevailing for an extended period, monitoring the violations of linguistic rights or conducting advocacy work thereupon is instead a novelty.
“Apart from some individual and provisional examples, the deficiency in this area is immense, and the problematic situation is undeniable”, says Prof. Bilmez. Yet, another obvious problem is that the communication, interaction, solidarity or dialogue between the existing works and authors/actors are not available or developed enough.
“Channels of experience sharing”
The Research Group for the Cultures of Turkey at Istanbul Bilgi University, which for the last few years has been involved in these topics and has launched the foundation of a Network for Language Rights Monitoring, Documenting, and Reporting, has been focusing on overcoming the deficiency as mentioned earlier and similar problems. Departing from this fact, the Research Group organized a workshop series with the generous support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation on the linguistic plurality and language rights to bring together individuals and institutions working on linguistic plurality and to discuss the creation of potential platforms and channels for experience sharing.
The online workshop series of “Linguistic Plurality and Linguistic Rights” was held on 18-19 and 25-26 July 2020. The issues like linguistic plurality, language rights, documents regulating language rights and the legal applications in different countries were comprehensively discussed throughout the workshop series that gathered academics, researchers, and lawyers from other countries. While various aspects of the topic of the workshop – legal and educational dimension in particular – were discussed in different sessions, experts from different organizations working in other fields of human rights shared their experiences and knowledge in the last session on monitoring and reporting rights. Besides, suggestions and recommendations for future work on language rights were discussed as the deficiency of the work thereupon in Turkey is widely accepted.
The compiled book in Turkish and English that will be published as an outcome of the workshop would aim at perpetuating the significant accumulation that has emerged in this event and reaching it to a broader audience through enhanced articles based on the oral presentations and the evaluations and discussions voiced during the workshops.