About the conference
One of the effects of climate change and urbanization are the marginalization of minority communities which are losing their ways of life and access to resources in the local and economic environment. Via systemic pressures, minority community members are forced to relocateto ensure social and economic mobility. This leads to shifting to majority languages, i.e. the break in intergenerational knowledge transmission; the older generations are disenfranchised and the communities are disrupted. Centuries of knowledge encoded in language is being lost before it has been recorded. All over the world, communities are struggling with these processes, trying to maintain their languages and cultural knowledge. In this sense, UNESCO has declared 2019 the "International Year of Indigenous Languages" with the objective of raising awareness to the urgent need to preserve, revitalize, and promote indigenous languages around the world. Thailand is representative of the current global situation with approximately 70 living languages, 15 of which are highly endangered.
The conference is hosted by the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, at Mahidol University,and is organized in collaboration with the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) at SOAS, University of London. The Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia has conducted research over the past 40 years on linguistic and cultural issues from a humanistic social perspective by adopting a broad-disciplinary approach, with a special focus on research for the promotion, conservation and revitalization of ethnic groups.SOAS, University of London has a long-established international reputation in the study of African and Asian languages. It has developed a unique expertise in the theoretical and practical aspects of documentation, description and archiving of endangered languages. ELAR is a digital repository specialized in preserving and publishing endangered language documentation materials from around the /world. It holds more than 500 multimedia collections of endangered languages worldwide, with regional strongholds in Africa, Middle East, Asia, Australia and South America. All materials are digital, free to access, openly available and have a worldwide coverage. ELAR is seen as a reputable and reliable repository and as one of the leading language and culture archives worldwide.
LCP 2019will be organized in the framework of the Newton-funded Institutional Links project "THE ETHNIC GROUP DIGITAL ARCHIVE: PROMOTING THE PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION OF LANGUAGE AND CULTURE DIVERSITY IN THAILAND". The project's main goal is theimplementationof a digital infrastructure in Thailand usingMukurtu CMS, which is a Drupal-based platform for data management, community archiving and data dissemination.In general terms, the project aims at developing measures to preserve cultural heritage and linguistic diversity by local scholars and community themselves, building local capacity and strengthening societal impact.
The conference aims to provide an interdisciplinary forum in which scholars working on the linguistic diversity in Thailand can exchange their knowledge and research in language documentation and language maintenance. It will be also an important place for the presentation and promotion of the newly created digital archive, fostering the discussion around archiving issues and the importance of archiving for the preservation of language diversity. Moreover, LCP 2019 represents an important step towards the development of regional, national, and international networks among institutions focused on the preservation of cultural heritage in Thailand.