Lutz Marten

Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
SOAS University of London


Lutz Marten is professor of linguistics at SOAS University of London. Since 2020, he has sat in the role of editor of the Transactions of the Philological Society. Lutz Marten is interested in human language: how language is structured and used, how languages differ and change over time, and how language is linked to culture, society, history, identity, and other domains of human life, but focusing on descriptive, comparative and theoretical linguistics, empirically grounded.


The first quarter of the 21st century has already seen dramatic changes – growing globalisation, accelerated climate change, and the Covid-19 pandemic, to mention only a few. These dynamics and events had also a profound effect on African linguistic landscapes and discourses. The representation, role and ideological positions of African languages in many countries and societies of the continent has changed significantly over the last 25 years or so.

In this talk I first contextualise these developments in colonial legacies and contemporary decolonising discourses and in what may be called an African language renaissance, as well as in my own positionality as on outsider, researcher and learner of African languages. I will then look at examples of African languages across social domains – in the public linguistic landscape, in education, health, legal discourses, and development. Drawing on these examples I will discuss different perspectives on these developments, including the dynamics between community languages, world languages and new languages, translanguaging, the role of new and social media, and possible political implications of the developments in the future: the increase of ethno-linguistic nationalism, the rise of federal, liberal states harnessing multilingualism, or the decline of the notion of the nation state.


Pavlos Kavouras

Ethnomusicology and
Cultural Anthropology

Pavlos Kavouras is a professor of the Faculty of Music Studies at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA). His work blends anthropology, sociology, musicology, history, philosophy, and cultural studies. He is the Founder and Director (2007-2022) of the Ethnomusicology and Cultural Anthropology Laboratory, NKUA. He has participated as a principal or collaborating partner in international lecturing, teaching, and ethnographic research, as well as institutional synergies in art and education management. Since 2016, he has been visiting professor at UCLA, at the Department of Ethnomusicology. In 2015, as Onassis Foundation Greek Scholars Fellow, he gave lectures at UCLA, Stanford, Illinois, Michigan, and Harvard. Since 2012, his academic, artistic, and philosophical interests have focused on migration and otherness through a broad geo-cultural perspective, employing music and film as venues for understanding otherness and as vehicles for attaining self-awareness. In 2019, he was appointed by the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs to represent Greece in the Ancient Civilizations Academic Forum in La Paz Bolivia. Since 2020, he has been founding member of the NKUA Center for Excellence dealing with “Inter-religious Dialogue.” He has conducted extensive ethnographic research in Greece, the USA, Southwest India, and Egypt. He has published numerous books and articles in English and in Greek, and is the General Editor of the Ethnomusicology and Anthropology scholarly series for Nissos Publications.

His publications include Ghlendi and xenitia: The poetics of exile in rural Greece, Trickster and Cain: a musical allegory, Folklore and tradition: issues of re-presentation and performance of music and dance, “Ethnographies of dialogical singing, dialogical ethnography,” and “Allegories of nostalgia: music, tradition, and modernity in the Mediterranean area”. His recent research projects include “Performigrations: People Are the Territory” (European Union – Canada Programme for Cooperation in Higher Education and Vocational Training, 2014-2016). “ARISTEIA II, Western Art Music at the Time of Crisis: An Interdisciplinary Study of Contemporary Greek Culture and European Integration” (WestArtMus 2014-2015), “Video Life Stories of Immigrants” (Hellenic Ministry of the Interior 2012-2013).


Humphrey Jeremiah Ojwang

University of Nairobi

Professor Humphrey Jeremiah Ojwang (PhD) is a Senior Research Associate in Linguistics and Paleoethnobotany at the Department of Earth Sciences, National Museums of Kenya; and Founder Chair: Ethnoconservation Committee of Nature Kenya (East Africa Natural History Society); Member of Nature Tanzania’s Education for Social Responsibility Africa Initiative (Arusha Tanzania); Member of the Kenya Museum Society, Nairobi, Kenya; Honorary Professor in Ethnbootany at the Traditional Medicine Institute, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Consultant and Visiting Professor of Education, University of Juba, South Sudan; and Former Senior Research Fellow and Thematic Unit Head of Language, Culture, and Society (Linguistic Anthropology) at the Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi (1999-2022). He continues to supervise PhD candidates at the University of Nairobi on African Women’s Studies Programme. Professor Ojwang also engages with Creative and Performing Artists in Mental Health Awares in the Eastern African Community. HJO.