Languages of the Arab Spring

Discipline: Anthropology
Instructor: Lefkowitz
Credits: 3
Day: C
Start: 1230
End: 1345
Field Work: Day 1- Valetta- Monday, 29 July | Malta
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

The world has watched with fascination as popular democratic revolutions have unfolded in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East. This course looks at the origin and future of this “Arab Spring” by studying dramatic changes in how (and when) people speak. Topics include: Arabic and social life; internet, Al-Jazeera, and the culture of new communicative technologies; and language and identity under globalization.

Field Work

Country: Malta
Day: 1- Valetta- Monday, 29 July

July 29 (Valetta, Malta) All over the world languages that have been spoken for thousands of years are becoming endangered, dying out as speakers shift to using the so-called “languages of wider communication,” such as English, Chinese, Russian, and other dominant languages. Nonetheless, in many places speakers place a high emotional and political value on the smaller, disappearing languages and actively try to preserve their use. Malta is one such place: Maltese is a Semitic language, historically related to Arabic, used in Malta alongside Italian, English, and other European languages. This field lab introduces students to a multilingual place, where different languages are used for different functions, and engages them in a small research project to observe the ways the Maltese society is working to maintain the use of the Maltese language. We will begin with a presentation by a linguistics professor at the University who is an expert in Maltese language maintenance. The bulk of the field lab experience, however, will involve travel to select locations on the island for small-group student observations of public (i.e., primarily written) language use. Students will collect data on visible language use in domains such as markets, university, restaurants, etc. for discussion and analysis in subsequent class meetings on board.