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Words on the Move 3

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

No booking required


Oh Lord! Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Digital systems of communication hold out a promise of cross-border, cross-cultural and genre-blurring freedom of expression, but are intertwined with techniques of surveillance and information-gathering that are more intrusive than ever before. The new media give space to individual voices from parts of the world which can be isolated or remote - geographically, historically, and socially - and they are the principal channels by which displaced people access knowledge, visibility/audibility, and can make a claim on public awareness. At the same time, however, the same knowledge systems expose speakers/writers and their communities to scrutiny. Edouard Glissant has explored the idea of ‘opacity’ in language as a powerful shelter from exploitation and oppression, and in his book, Thou Shalt Not Speak My Language, the bilingual Moroccan scholar Abdelfattah Kilito has discussed the position of strength afforded in colonial condition when the masters do not know the language.

This workshop will explore the potential and consequences of expanded digital communications for expression today, in relation to the rise of English as a global mono-language. It is third in the series of workshops, Words on the Move, which take place at Birkbeck alongside the project Stories in Transit in Palermo, Sicily. Thousands and thousands of people today have been unhomed by war, famine, and other circumstances, and we are exploring what words in motion can do to forge relations to self and community, and how they may offer some degree of shelter.


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